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Acute Febrile Illness: Symptoms & Treatment

Acute Febrile Illness: Symptoms & Treatment
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  • 0:02 What Is Acute Febrile Illness?
  • 0:31 Causes
  • 1:16 Symptoms
  • 2:02 Treating Acute Fibrile Illness
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Acute febrile illness is the medical term used to describe a sudden fever or elevation in body temperature. This happens when the body is invaded by a pathogen and the immune system is activated to fight it off. In this lesson, learn about the symptoms and treatment options.

What Is Acute Febrile Illness?

When the body is invaded by a foreign pathogen like a virus or bacteria, the immune system kicks into gear and tries to fight the infection before it has a chance to spread. When this happens, the body's temperature is elevated to try to kill off the pathogen, and this results in what we call a fever. Acute febrile illness is when a fever develops suddenly; specifically, the body temperature rises above 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

Causes

If you've ever been sick, you've probably experienced having a fever, and you know how hard it can be to determine the underlying cause. Acute febrile illness can occur whenever the body is invaded by some type of infectious disease, but it is especially worrisome in tropical and sub-tropical regions where serious diseases loom. These can include malaria, dengue, typhoid, chikungunya, Leptospirosis, scrub typhus, influenza, encephalitis, histoplasmosis, enteric fever, rickettsiosis, Hantavirus, and many, many others. Specifically, the hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature, and it may decide to elevate body temperature in response to an infection.

Symptoms

In addition to causing elevated body temperature, acute febrile illness can be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, sweats, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, and weakness. Sometimes it's also affiliated with respiratory symptoms like coughing or wheezing. A fever in itself isn't necessarily cause for alarm; however, it becomes problematic when the body temperature gets too high or lasts for an extended amount of time.

In infants or very young children, fever may be accompanied by seizures (called febrile seizures). These are generally harmless (although they can be very scary to witness), though it's recommended to take children to the doctor the first time they experience a febrile seizure. They can be recurring, so it's best to make sure they aren't indicative of a more serious cause.

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