Low-grade fever may appear due to stress. What is psychogenic fever and how to combat it?
- Low-grade fever – causes
- Low-grade fever in an infant
- Low-grade fever in a child
- Low-grade fever – when is treatment necessary?
- Stress fever
- What happens in the body under stress?
- What are stress hormones?
- How long does the body stay mobilized?
- Is stress our enemy?
- Temperature raised from stress?
- Psychogenic fever
- Low-grade fever and chronic stress
- Treatment of psychogenic fever
Low-grade fever – causes
Low-grade fever is a body temperature between 36.7 and 38 degrees Celsius. It can appear as a result of a viral or bacterial infection, a cold, a chronic disease, a parasite infection, and even … stress.
Low fever should not be suppressed. It means that the body is activating immune cells and is fighting the infection. Only when the body temperature exceeds 38 degrees Celsius and turns into a fever, you should reach for antipyretic drugs or natural ways to reduce the fever.
Low-grade fever in an infant
It is worth writing a few words about a low-grade fever in an infant. Body thermoregulation is different in young children than in adults. This makes it easier for them to overheat, and an increase in body temperature can occur even when the child is dressed too thickly or too thickly wrapped to sleep.
The body temperature of young children may be slightly higher than that of adults. Low-grade fever occurs when the temperature exceeds 37.1 degrees Celsius. It should not be brought down to 38 degrees Celsius – unless the child reacts badly to fever or has a tendency to a rapid increase in temperature. Parents should be vigilant and react when the temperature starts to rise rapidly. If this is the case, it may be better and safer to administer an antipyretic earlier to lower the temperature.
However, if the child shows no symptoms of the disease, eats willingly, is not tearful or fussy, the temperature should not be brought down. It is only worth making sure that the toddler does not overheat, do not wrap him too tightly and do not cover him with a thick duvet.
Low-grade fever in a child
In older children, low-grade fever may be a reaction to teething, viral or fungal infections. It can also occur after vaccination. As in the case of infants, the child should be monitored and the child should be monitored for additional symptoms of infection, such as rash, vomiting, runny nose or cough, in addition to the low-grade fever. In case of any doubts, always go to the pediatrician with the child.
Low-grade fever – when is treatment necessary?
A mild increase in temperature allows the body to fight an infection or virus. It should not be combated, lest it weaken the immune system. However, if the body temperature does not drop but rises, it is worth reaching for antipyretic drugs such as brufen or paracetamol.
What should be worrying is a chronic low-grade fever. It can mean various disease processes in the body, as well as serious diseases, e.g. cancer. Chronic low-grade fever requires urgent consultation with a doctor and basic laboratory tests.
“Although this condition is known in the literature, only a few doctors in the world study it and treat patients with psychogenic fever,”
According to Dr. Liza, no epidemiological studies have yet been conducted on psychogenic fever. Therefore, the number of patients affected is unknown. However, Dr. Liza says the condition is relatively common – based on available case reports and his own clinical practice. She saw a large number of patients, especially among Japanese students due to academic stress. Dr. Liza explains that because many doctors do not fully understand how stress can affect body temperature, patients with psychogenic fever are diagnosed with a cause that is unknown due to symptoms of disability.
What happens in the body under stress?
As a result of stress, the body releases large doses of cortisol, adrenaline and thyroxin, hormones that are released in extreme or difficult situations. Such a release of stress hormones can lead to dilatation of the pupils, faster breathing, and an accelerated heartbeat. We lose our mental balance, we become nervous and feverish.
The adrenaline rush is supposed to make the body react more strongly to stimuli, sharpen our senses and increase the body’s reaction speed. However, if stress is chronic and not one-off, it can lead to deterioration of health and trigger many disease processes. Chronic stress leads to sleep problems, anxiety disorders, neurosis, and depression. It can also trigger various autoimmune diseases.
What are stress hormones?
Stress hormones are secreted by the adrenal glands in a stress-triggering situation. These include adrenaline and norepinephrine, as well as cortisol. Their presence helps to protect the body from the effects of stress and mobilize it to fight. However, if the stressful situation lasts too long, stress hormones can weaken the nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems.
How long does the body stay mobilized?
In a stressful situation, the body mobilizes to fight. Initially, stress causes all muscles to tense, the heart speeds up, and the senses sharpen. However, this state of affairs should not last too long, because it may weaken the body. Long-term stress can even lead to neurological disorders, which shows how harmful its effect is on the body. Stress is also one of the causes of cardiovascular disease.
The body’s response to stress is the following:
- Rapid breathing
- Shaking hands
- Trembling voice
- Pupil dilation
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
- Rise of temperature
Some people will only get a high temperature, signifying a low-grade fever. Others may even develop psychogenic fever, triggered by strong emotions.
Is stress our enemy?
However, it cannot be said that stress is the enemy of the body. Chronic stress can actually weaken the body and cause various diseases. However, one-off bursts of adrenaline and cortisol make the body mobilize to fight the stress factor in a stressful situation. It can help us get through an exam, a difficult day at work, or motivate us to act in a stressful situation.
However, it is worth remembering that excessive stress has the opposite effect and weakens the body significantly. It especially affects the functioning of the nervous system, deterioration of the mental condition and depressed mood. As a result of stress, problems with night rest, insomnia, anxiety disorders and neurosis can occur.
Temperature raised from stress?
Excessive secretion of cortisol and adrenaline can stimulate the immune system to fight and lead to an elevated temperature. Low-grade fever occurs not only as a result of an infection or cold, but also an excessive nervous or emotional tension.
Increased body temperature may occur as a result of a stressful situation, especially as a result of a severe strain on the body, e.g. information about a disease of a close family member. But stress is not the only factor that can increase your body temperature. It can also occur as a result of overwork or excessive physical exertion that has exhausted the body’s energy resources.
We talk about psychogenic fever when it is not accompanied by any other symptoms. If there are no symptoms of infection (cough, runny nose, muscle pain or malaise), but there is too much stress in our lives lately, the body can react to it in different ways. Nervous disorders, insomnia, depressed mood may occur. Some people may develop a fever called psychogenic. The body temperature then becomes higher than 38 degrees Celsius.
The reason for this is the excessive secretion of stress hormones that mobilize the body to fight. This is not a typical symptom, but it happens quite often in people who are mentally fragile. This is the body’s defensive response and helps the body fight stress.
Low-grade fever and chronic stress
Chronic stress is very dangerous and can cause many diseases. It’s important to realize that chronic stress weakens the body and immune system, making us more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Sleep problems, which often arise in stressful situations, make it difficult for the body to regenerate and put additional strain on the heart and immunity. As a result, there are other ailments that clearly mean that the body is struggling with stressors.
What you should pay attention to are chronic low-grade fever, which can occur under severe stress. If this condition persists for a long time, you should see a doctor urgently. Any weakening of the body (and a low-grade fever is what this means) should be carefully investigated. A low-grade fever is the reason for visiting your GP.
Treatment of psychogenic fever
Currently, there are several treatment options available, but they are generally similar to the treatment of other stress-related illnesses and are not specific to psychogenic fever. However, Dr. Liza is confident there will be a breakthrough in treatment in the near future as more research is conducted.
Instead of using the traditional term of “psychogenic fever,” Dr. Liza suggests calling this condition “functional hyperthermia.” The use of the word “functional” would prevent these patients from stigmatizing, and in a clinical setting it combines both a stress-related pathology and impaired functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which is important in the treatment of this condition.