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What causes fever?

Multiple types of infections, inflammatory disorders, and conditions can lead to a fever. More common infections include flu (influenza), pneumonia, appendicitis, and urinary tract infections. Rheumatoid arthritis and other connective tissue inflammatory conditions can also be present with a fever. Your baby may even have a fever when teething.

Possible causes of fever

Fever is a sign of many different types of infections:

  • Appendicitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Cellulitis (bacterial skin infection)
  • Common cold (viral respiratory infection)
  • Diverticulitis (inflammation of an abnormal pocket in the colon)
  • Ear infection
  • Gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”)
  • Urinary tract infection

Other causes of fever

Fever can also be caused by inflammatory conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)

Life-threatening causes of fever

In some cases, fever may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include:

  • Brain abscess
  • Epiglottitis (life-threatening inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis, a tissue flap between the tongue and windpipe)
  • Influenza, particularly in the very old or young
  • Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Pneumonia
  • Septic shock
  • Tuberculosis (serious infection affecting the lungs and other organs)

What are the risk factors for dengue fever?

A number of factors increase your chances of contracting dengue fever and the serious complications of dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. Risk factors include:

  • Living or traveling to warm subtropical and tropical areas of the world, including Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East, Australia, the Caribbean, and the South and Central Pacific
  • Being a child in a warm subtropical area with a previous history of dengue fever.


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