Medical Definition of Periodic fever

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Periodic fever: Recurrences of fever that last from a few days to a few weeks and are separated by symptom-free intervals of varying duration. This pattern of fever can be caused by recurrent infection, malignancy or noninfectious inflammatory disorders.

Periodic fever that lasts for more than two years is rarely due to a malignancy or an infection. Attacks that follow a predictable course with a similar set of symptoms each time usually reflect a noninfectious cause such as, for example, Still's disease (rheumatoid arthritis typically of juvenile onset but sometimes of adult onset), Crohn's disease, and Behçet syndrome.

A family history of periodic fever is suggestive of one of the hereditary periodic fever syndromes such as familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), the hyper-IgD syndrome, and the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated periodic syndrome.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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