Unexplained Fever

The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the training and experience to evaluate and treat unexplained fever, also called fever of unknown origin.

What Is Unexplained Fever?

Unexplained fever is when a child has a temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts a minimum of eight days with no clear cause even after a child has been evaluated by health care providers and received lab testing.

A pediatric infectious disease specialist with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases can evaluate a child experiencing an unexplained fever to help determine a potential underlying cause.

Unexplained Fever Symptoms

When evaluating a child for unexplained fever, providers will want to know:

  • Duration of fever: How long do the fevers last?
  • Height of fevers: How high are the fevers?
  • Frequency: How often are the fevers happening? Once a day? Twice a day?
  • Response to fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

How a fever “acts” in a child can provide clues to pediatric infectious disease specialists about what could be causing the fever. Fevers can be:

  • Irregular with high spikes.
  • Remittent: The fever is high throughout the day without going back to normal temperature.
  • Relapsing or recurrent: This is a pattern in which the child will experience a period of fever, return to normal temperature and then return to a fever.
  • Sustained: The fever has a pattern of not changing much. The fever remains high, within a few degrees of the same high temperature.

Children with unexplained fever may have no other symptoms, or they may feel sluggish or tired (lethargic) and may lack an appetite.

Unexplained Fever Treatment

The pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases will work to create a treatment plan based on the child’s age, current condition and medical history. Depending on the type of fever, current symptoms and other factors, our specialists may order tests to check for infections as well as other conditions that may be causing fever. Fever of unknown origin often is caused by unusual symptoms of a common disease rather than by an uncommon disease.

Unexplained fever is not treated with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medicines unless there is evidence that a child may have tuberculosis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases?

  • Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases specializes in the care of children from birth through adolescence.
  • With seven infectious diseases specialists and one nurse practitioner on staff, your child can be seen quickly, especially for urgent needs.
  • Members of our team are nationally recognized and have held or serve in leadership positions related to infectious diseases.
  • Our provider team is leading Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Group in COVID-19 efforts, helping streamline infection prevention and providing patient care during the pandemic.
  • Our team provides inpatient consultation services at Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, as well as telemedicine services throughout Kentucky. Our physicians also treat patients at UofL Hospital.
  • Keep up with your child’s lab results, communicate with your provider and schedule appointments through MyNortonChart.
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