As monsoons bid adieu and winters step in, a flurry of seasonal infections may attempt to dampen the festive mood by causing cough, cold, fever, body aches among a host of other symptoms. Many people also report low-grade fever with flu-like or no other symptoms during this season. A low-grade fever is the one that is anywhere between 99 to 101 and lasts for more than 24 hours. It is common to have it for a couple of days, however, a persistent low-grade fever can be worrisome and one must investigate the reason behind it by consulting a physician. A persistent low-grade fever is defined as fever which lasts for more than 10 to 14 days. High grade fever on the other hand is more than 103 and must be addressed immediately if it lasts for long. (Also read: Omicron BF.7 in India; experts on symptoms of new Covid variant, possibility of fresh wave in Diwali)
“For normal people 98.3 degrees is the normal body temperature. Now, a low-grade fever can mean a lot of different things. Most of them are mild fevers, which are due to a normal flu or cold and cough and settles on its own. But if it is a persistently lasting fever, there are different causes, which needs to be ruled out,” says Dr Sulaiman Ladhani, Consulting Chest Physician, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.
Dr Ladhani talks about 8 common causes behind your persistent low-grade fever:
VIRAL INFECTIONS LIKE COMMON COLD, COVID
In case of low-grade fevers, the most common cause is viral infection like common cold, where you have low grade fever with body ache malaise, but it is normally settled down with paracetamol, and it lasts for a few days. Other symptoms for a viral flu and cold could include a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, fatigue and lack of appetite.
Another cause could be viral pneumonia which may cause fever with chills and cough and which could last for more than 2-3 weeks. Treatment for viral infection is mainly rest and hydration with paracetamol. If it doesn’t settle down, then you should consult a medical practitioner.
The other causes of low-grade fever could include a urinary tract infection, in both children and adults. Normally, it is due to a bacterial infection commonly seen in women. And so, here along with low grade fever, you may have pain and burning while passing urine going for frequent urination and sometimes the blood may be present in the urine. One must consult a doctor who may examine your urine sample to diagnose UTI. The treatment for this is antibiotics but they should be taken under medical supervision and you should consult your doctor for the same.
In infants low grade fever can occur because of the teething issues and the fever will be of high grade also, you should see a doctor to confirm the same and manage accordingly.
The other most common cause of low-grade fever in our country is tuberculosis where fever is lasting for more than three weeks. It is a very highly infectious disease caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis. Here the symptoms would be low-grade fever lasting for more than three weeks, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing, there may be blood in the cough and sometimes night sweat. So, for this further examination should be done. Consult your doctor and he would do your X-ray and Sputum tests to diagnose TB.
Another cause could include autoimmune diseases where there may be low grade fever but associated symptoms of other autoimmune disease may be present like joint pains in case of arthritis and there are multiple other autoimmune diseases, but the same needs to be diagnosed and treatment taken accordingly.
Sometimes, thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid may also cause low grade fever, you may have fatigue, muscle pain and neck pain. And this can be diagnosed by medical personnel by examination by blood tests for thyroid or a sonography of the thyroid.
If a person is of old age, then certain cancers also particularly can cause unexplained low-grade fevers like leukaemias and lymphomas. But this may be rare and fever may be a nonspecific symptom. Having a persistent fever normally doesn’t mean cancer but it can alert if you have other associated symptoms like chronic fatigue or lymph nodes in the neck, unexplained weight loss. Breathlessness loss of appetite depends upon which type of cancer and which part of the body is affected. The symptoms may depend upon that and appropriate treatment can be done after evaluation.
The treatment of low-grade fever will depend upon the cause. While in case of viral infections, the fever settles down with a paracetamol, but for other causes, the root cause has to be treated for which you need to get in touch with your doctor.
Dr Ladhani says one can prevent viral infections and pneumonias by taking vaccinations. The flu vaccine is to be taken yearly while only one shot of pneumonia vaccine is required only if your doctor suggests so.