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Types of Fever

Types of Fever

This article explains some of the common types of fever in children and adults. Scroll down to know how the symptoms associated with fever vary according to the underlying cause.
Leena Palande
Various diseases and infections (bacterial, viral, parasitic) exhibit fever as a symptom. Fever is nothing but elevated body temperature. The normal body temperature, when measured orally can be 98.2±1.3 ºF or 36.8±0.7 ºC. Sweating is a way of maintaining normal body temperature. Brain, sweat glands in the skin, blood vessels and hormones play an important role in maintaining normal body temperature. Enzymes and hormones in the body cannot work properly if the temperature of the body rises above or drops below the normal range. Persistent high fever can prove to be fatal. Body raises its temperature to kill the pathogens. This is an adaptive mechanism which helps accelerate the immune system.
Different Types of Fever
Fever can be classified according to the symptoms associated, its cause and its pattern. Fever can be low-grade (body temperature less than 101 ºF) or high grade (temp. over 104 ºF). The pattern of fever often helps diagnose the disease. Here are fever types according to the typical pattern of the fever.

Continuous Fever
The patient notices higher than normal body temperature throughout the day but he/she does not notice severe fluctuations in body temperature. Small variation of about 1 ºC may be noticed within 24 hours. This type of continuous fever is noticed in patients who have urinary tract infection, typhus, lobar pneumonia or brucellosis. When children and adults suffer from typhoid fever, they suffer from consistently elevated body temperature (sustained fever) for a prolonged period of time. This fever subsides only after taking medication.

Remittent Fever
When the person having fever experiences temperature fluctuations, more than 1 ºC during 24 hours, it is called remittent fever. For example, patients suffering from infective endocarditis may experience this type of fever.

Intermittent Fever
The patient experiences fever for a certain period of time. Then again, his/her body attains normal temperature. This type of fever is observed during malaria, black-fever, or septicemia. Intermittent fever is termed as quotidian fever when it is experienced for 24 hours. It is referred to as tertian fever when it remains for 48 hours. Patients of malaria may experience quotidian or tertian type of fever pattern. Patients suffering from plasmodium malariae suffer from fever which exhibits 72 hour periodicity. This type of fever is known as quartan fever. A body temperature that exhibits a typical pattern of 'highs and lows' is also known as episodic fever.

Relapsing Fever
When fever reappears after a certain period of time, it is called relapsing fever. Not only once but fever may reappear a number of times. Those who have a weak immune system may have to face this problem.

Pel-Ebstein Fever
Some doctors don't accept this as a type of fever. Some don't agree that this type of pattern exists. This type of fever is seen in patients of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of white blood cells. The patients suffer from high fever for one week and low fever for the next week.

This was about the patterns of fever. The type of fever and associated symptoms may vary according to the underlying cause of the fever.
Fever and Associated Symptoms
The following information might be helpful in identifying some of the common diseases and types of fever in children and adults.

Rheumatic Fever: Low to high degree, seen in small children, teenagers.
Symptoms: Joint pain, affected functioning of heart and nervous system.
Disease: Chronic Inflammatory Rheumatism.

Chills and Fever: Low to high degree fever, common in both children and adults.
Symptoms: Sore throat, body ache, stuffy nose, cough, weakness.
Disease: Influenza, Viral Infection.

Low to High Degree Fever: Common in Children.
Symptoms: Headache, watery eyes, cough, reddish skin rash, weakness. Patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience sudden spread of infection due to weak immune system (lack of infection-fighting neutrophils).
Disease: Measles.

High Fever: Common in Children.
Symptoms: Chills and shivering, excessive sweating, weakness, headache, body ache.
Disease: Malaria.

Sudden High Fever (from 104-105 ºF)
Symptoms: Headache, joint pain, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, loss of appetite.
Disease: Dengue fever.

High Fever (101 ºF and above)
Symptoms: Headache, white coating on tongue, covered with red dots; swollen glands in the neck, swollen, reddened throat, darkening of body creases, pale skin, skin rash in the form of red streaks.
Disease: Scarlet fever.
The list does not end here but it is just impossible to describe the types of fever and their symptoms in one article. Children suffering from tonsillitis may have fever while elderly members in the family may suffer from fever due to severe arthritis. One may suffer from fever after immunization or even after excessive exertion. Various common conditions exhibit fever as a symptom. A mild fever followed by mild symptoms may go away without any treatment but persistent or high fever needs immediate medical attention.