Can Migraines Cause Fevers?

Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2021
Migraine and fever symptoms and triggers
Since a fever isn’t a common symptom of a migraine attack, a fever coupled with a headache may be a sign of another underlying illness, such as COVID-19 or heatstroke.

Fevers may occur with migraines only in very rare cases, which means the cause of a fever and a headache must be ruled out before arriving at the diagnosis of the migraine.

Although the cause of fevers in cases of migraines remains unknown, it is speculated that it may have something to do with your hypothalamus—a small area of the brain that helps regulate factors such as hunger, body temperature and hormones. A disorder or glitch in the functioning of the hypothalamus due to the migraine seems to be the probable reason behind the increase in your body temperature.

Some people find that their normal body temperature (97°F) goes up to 98°F during a migraine episode. Therefore, if you feel warm during a migraine attack, you must check your temperature with a thermometer and see if it is above 100.4°F, which is the temperature that signifies you have a fever. If your headache is severe and persisting, then you need to call your doctor. Your accompanying fever may be a sign of an infection or any other serious illness.

What conditions can cause a headache and a fever?

Since it is unusual to experience migraines and fevers together, a headache coupled with a fever may not be a migraine attack at all. There are various conditions in which headaches and fevers occur together as symptoms of other diseases, which include the following.

Infections

If your system is under attack from a microbe such as a bacterium or a virus, then your body responds to the infection in the form of many different symptoms, one of which may be a fever. The fever itself can then give rise to a headache.

Infections that can cause a headache along with a fever includes:

Cold and flu

Cold and flu are viral infections that can cause fevers and headaches along with other signs and symptoms, such as:

Ear infections

Ear infections are more common in children than in adults. They cause a buildup of fluid in your ear canal that increases pressure in your ear, which can give rise to ear pain or discomfort. Additionally, you may develop a fever and a headache.

Meningitis and encephalitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective lining (membranes) that covers the brain and spinal cord and is most often caused by a bacterial or viral infection of the brain and spinal fluid. Most commonly found in babies and children, more than any other age group, the elderly are also susceptible.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the active tissues of the brain in response to an infection or autoimmune process.

Both conditions share common signs and symptoms (other than fevers and headaches), such as:

Encephalitis and meningitis are life-threatening infections. If you develop a fever, a severe headache, neck stiffness and any other symptoms, then you need to visit your nearest emergency room.

Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Apart from fevers and headaches, you may experience other symptoms, such as:

COVID-19 infection

COVID-19 presents itself with a wide variety of symptoms that include:

Heatstroke (or sunstroke)

Heatstroke is a condition in which prolonged exposure to a warm place or exercise in a hot environment causes your body temperature to increase to 104?°F or above. You may also get a throbbing headache as well. This emergency condition includes one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Flushed skin
  • Hot, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability
  • Seizures

Vaccinations

Fevers and headaches are common symptoms after receiving vaccinations, which usually occur within 24 hours of receiving the dose. Since vaccines take time to build up your immunity, side effects may occur as a response to your body fighting the dose.

Other side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

SLIDESHOW

16 Surprising Headache Triggers and Tips for Pain Relief See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2021
References
Ordás CM, Cuadrado ML, Rodríguez-Cambrón AB, et al. Increase in body temperature during migraine attacks. Pain Med. 2013 Aug;14(8):1260-1264. doi: 10.1111/pme.12145. Epub 2013 May 24. PMID: 23710707.

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.