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Low-grade Fever in Adults

When the body temperature is above 99 degrees F, but below 103 degrees F, it is considered as low-grade fever in adults. The probable causes of low-grade fever are many, of which some include allergies, bacterial infection, viral disease, fungal infection, and medicine side effects.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Body temperature higher than the normal range is one of the most commonly reported medical conditions. Identified as fever in medical science, it is the first sign that indicates a pathogenic infection or presence of a disease. Hence, it won't be wrong to say that fever is directly or indirectly related to any type of diseases known to us. Symptoms that usually accompany low-grade fever in adults are shivering, chills, weakness, body ache, and increased heartbeat. Appropriate fever treatment is proceeded with reference to the underlying cause.
What is a Low-grade Fever?
For a healthy individual, the ideal temperature of the body is 98.6 degrees F. But, increase in activity level and wearing thick clothing may cause a slight increase in the body temperature. In adults, the term low-grade fever indicates body temperature between 100 degrees F to 103 degrees F. According to health experts, low-grade fever is caused due to the body's natural defense mechanism. But, it is not clear as to why the body temperature rises as a response to infection. Some experts suggest that it is the fast release of white blood cells and their attack against germs, which result in elevation of body temperature. While others suggest that the immune system fights against the invading microbes at a higher body temperature.
Causes of Low-grade Fever in Adults
Fever is a signal sent by the body system for presence of invading germs and/or disease-causing pathogens. So, what causes mild fever in adults? There are several medical conditions, in which abnormally high body temperature is observed as one of the symptoms. It suggests that something wrong is happening inside the body. The underlying cause of fever can be mild, treatable or severe.
Allergic Responses - Almost all of us are aware that low-grade fever developed as a result of allergies. You might have already heard of hay fever, which is caused due to pollen allergy. Likewise, allergy causes fever in both children and adults.
Bacterial Infection - Infection by pathogenic bacteria is another reason for running high body temperature in adults. To name a few, bacterial diseases that cause mild fever are typhoid, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, and infection in the upper respiratory tract.
Viral Infection - Cold and flu are common examples of viral infections. And the most prominent sign of these contagious diseases is elevation of bodily temperature, higher than the normal range. Other viral diseases that cause fever are HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, chickenpox, etc.
Fungal Infection - As with bacterial and viral infections, attack by fungal strains is also a leading cause of low-grade fever in children and adults. For treating this condition, the doctor will recommend antifungal medicine in correct doses for a specific length of time.
Tuberculosis - Persistent mild fever is a warning sign for some underlying medical problems, one of which is tuberculosis. A bacterial infection by pathology, it is a chronic problem that affects the normal functioning of the lungs.
Urinary Tract Infection - Infection in the urinary system, known as UTI, causes low-grade to high-grade fever in adults. Other associated symptoms of urinary tract infection are burning sensation during urination, frequent urge to urinate, and passing out bloody urine.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - Known as PID in abbreviated form, the pelvic inflammatory disease is caused due to bacterial infection in the female reproductive system. Immediate treatment is essential to minimize spreading of infection to other body parts and prevent recurring fever.
Appendicitis - Mild fever is also a symptom of inflammation of the appendix (called appendicitis) and/or infection of the same organ. If appendicitis is left untreated, the affected area becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, thus causing recurrent fever bouts.
Lymphoma - Body temperature readings need not be very high to indicate severe medical complications. This is evident from the fact that lymphoma and other types of cancer cause mild fever as a symptom. Immediate medical attention is necessary to address the underlying cause.
Medicine Side Effect - Advocating a new drug or medicine can also lead to high body temperature as a side effect. Such a medication induced fever is medically referred to as drug fever. The symptoms will subside, once the patient stops taking the triggering drug.
Treatment for Low-grade Fever in Adults
Incidences of running high temperature with no other symptoms are reported by many people. In majority of the cases, the condition improves with time. While a mild fever induced by bacterial infection may require treatment with antibiotics, a viral infection subsides on its own after some days. If required, over-the-counter drugs and medications may be prescribed for alleviating the discomfort symptoms. For example, viral fever associated with cough and chest congestion is best treated with a cough medicine and decongestants. To shorten the fever episode, one should take rest and drink adequate amounts of healthy fluids. As fever temperature drops, the patient experiences increased sweating.
At any point of time, persistent low-grade fever should not be neglected. Fever that persists for more than 3 weeks is a medical concern. In case, the body temperature increases to 103 degrees F, take the doctor's advice at the earliest possible date. Once in the clinic, diagnostic tests will be conducted to rule out possible health conditions. And based on the test results, correct treatment approaches will be recommended for the patient.