Fever in adults


Fever in adults is a condition characterized by an elevated body temperature above the normal range. It usually occurs as a sign of infection, inflammation, or an autoimmune reaction. Typical symptoms of fever include chills, fatigue, body aches, and sweating. Treatment can include antipyretics to reduce fever, rest, fluids, and increased calorie intake. Severe fever should be evaluated by a medical professional to detect possible underlying causes.


The most common symptoms of fever in adults include chills, sweating, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, dehydration, and body aches. Other symptoms may include sore throat, stuffy nose, coughing, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of being unwell.


The most common causes of fever in adults are viral infections, bacterial infections, medications, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Viral infections, such as the flu and the common cold, are the most common causes of fever in adults. Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, sinusitis, and urinary tract infections, can also cause a fever. Medications, including antibiotics and immunizations, can sometimes cause a fever as a side effect. Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause a fever as well. Lastly, some types of cancer can also cause a fever.

Risk factors

The main risk factors for fever in adults are:

  1. Recent travel to an area where infectious diseases are more common.
  2. Exposure to animals or contaminated food/water.
  3. Having a compromised immune system due to chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or cancer.
  4. Having had certain medical procedures or surgeries that put you at risk for infection.
  5. Participating in certain high-risk activities, such as drug use and/or unprotected sex.
  6. Being exposed to certain allergens, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.
  7. Being exposed to certain chemicals or toxins.
  8. Being pregnant or taking certain medications that may weaken your immune system.


Fever in adults is typically diagnosed by taking an individual’s temperature. The average adult body temperature is 98.6 degrees F, so any temperature above this range may indicate fever. A practitioner may also take into account other symptoms the person is experiencing such as general discomfort, chills, or muscle aches. In some cases, a urine or blood test may be ordered to rule out any underlying infections or illnesses.


The various subtypes of Fever in adults can be categorized according to the underlying cause. These causes can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.

Bacterial Fever: A bacterial fever is caused by a bacterial infection, such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, mycobacterium tuberculosis, or brucella. Symptoms of bacterial fever include chills, fever, and sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, and headache.

Viral Fever: A viral fever is caused by a virus, such as the influenza virus, herpes virus, adenovirus, rotavirus, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Symptoms of viral fever include fever, sore throat, runny nose, and headache.

Fungal Fever: A fungal fever is caused by a fungal infection, such as candida, histoplasma, cryptococcus, or blastomyces. Symptoms of fungal fever include fatigue, fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, skin rashes, and joint pain.

Parasitic Fever: A parasitic fever is caused by a parasitic infection, such as malaria, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, or schistosomiasis. Symptoms of parasitic fever include fever, chills, night sweats, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.


Treatment options for fever in adults typically include:

  1. Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol).
  2. Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  3. Taking a lukewarm bath to cool down the body.
  4. Avoiding too much physical activity.
  5. Resting and getting adequate sleep.
  6. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.
  7. Applying compresses or a cool damp cloth to the forehead or back of the neck to reduce the body’s temperature.
  8. Receiving medical care if the fever is accompanied by other symptoms that may indicate a serious underlying medical condition.


To reduce the risk of fever in adults, one should take preventative measures to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This may include eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, washing hands often and avoiding contact with people who are sick, and getting enough sleep. It may also be beneficial to get regular checkups with a primary care provider, as this can help diagnose and treat any underlying illnesses that may be causing the fever.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of Fever in adults. Males are more likely to present with higher fever temperatures than females, and they often demonstrate different physiological responses to fever. For instance, male adults tend to develop higher fever spikes (higher peak temperatures) and maintain the fever for a longer period of time compared to females. In addition, they are more prone to developing more severe symptoms such as confusion, delirium and seizures. They also have higher rates of sepsis and longer hospital stays due to fever-related illnesses.

With regards to management, females tend to respond better to treatment with antipyretics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Women also have a higher rate of successful recovery from fever-related illnesses compared to males. Furthermore, women are less likely to suffer from long-term complications or sequelae of fever than males.


Nutrition plays a key role in the management of fever in adults. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help to promote a healthy immune system, which can help to reduce the risk of developing a fever or reduce its severity. Additionally, drinking plenty of fluids can help to replace fluids lost through sweating and help to reduce a fever. Eating light meals with simple carbohydrates and proteins can also help to provide energy and promote healing. It is also important to avoid alcohol and caffeine while managing a fever, as they can increase dehydration and make symptoms more severe.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can positively affect Fever in adults, as increased physical activity causes an increase in body temperature, which in turn can help fight off the infection that is causing the fever. Regular exercise can build up the body’s natural defenses, making it more resistant to infections. Additionally, physical activity can reduce stress, which in turn can help reduce the severity of fever symptoms.

Further Reading

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759
  2. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/fever
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/fever-in-adults
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/fever-in-adults
  5. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/10880-fever

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