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"Is it safe to have a fever longer than three days?"

ZocdocAnswersIs it safe to have a fever longer than three days?

Question

My husband has been running a fever for over three days now, and I'm worried about him. He is not that sick, otherwise, but he definitely has a temperature. He's blowing it off as no big deal, but I think over three days is just too long to be safe. Should I take him to the hospital?

Answer

Fever is a very non-specific symptom, meaning that the list of illnesses that can cause a fever is tremendous. Many infectious disease processes can lead to a fever, including everything from a run-of-the-mill influenza illness to complicated and much more serious infections such as bacteria in the blood stream. Non-infectious diseases that can lead to fever include autoimmune disease (e.g rheumatoid arthritis or vasculitis), cancer, blood clots, endocrine disorders (e.g. thyroid storm), and medications. Typically a thorough history and physical exam performed by your doctor will lead to the underlying cause of the fever. Sometimes further testing may be needed (imaging or laboratory studies) to help figure out the cause. In some cases, fevers persists for several weeks and a cause is never found (i.e., fever of unknown origin). In any case, given that the cause of your husband's fever is not apparent from co-existing signs or symptoms, it would be advisable to have him checked out by his primary care physician.

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