When to Call the Doctor: Fever, Nausea, Flu, Cold (cont.)

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Fever in an adult is a different situation, because the patient is old enough to identify associated complaints and symptoms, and can provide a past medical history. Fever is a systemic response to inflammation. Patients with compromised immune systems and a fever are a completely different scenario. Those with immune system conditions or disease do not function as well as those who are not immunocompromised, and their body may not be able to fight off infection adequately, for example:

All these patients in the above scenario need to be seen urgently. Otherwise, fever plus other symptoms may provide enough information in regard as to who should be seen by a healthcare professional, and who may stay home and self-treat.

Possible causes of fever are:

  • Fever, muscle aches, and dry cough are likely caused by a viral infection such as influenza (flu).
  • Fever and a stuffed up head is likely due to another viral infection, the common cold.
  • Fever with a cough that produces colored sputum may be pneumonia.
  • Any time there is shortness of breath or chest pain with fever, those symptoms should not be ignored.
  • Fever and abdominal pain is not normal and the affected individual should see their healthcare professional.
  • Watchful waiting is reasonable for a person with fever and no other symptoms, as long as they feel and look reasonably well.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/30/2014