Headaches and fever are common symptoms of several kinds of illnesses. Mild illnesses, such as the seasonal flu virus, and allergies can cause these symptoms. Sometimes getting a fever can give you a headache.
Headache pain and fever affect both adults and children. In some cases, they may signal that your body is fighting a more serious infection or illness. Read on to learn more about the different causes of a headache and fever.
Other illnesses and inflammation can also trigger a fever. You might have a fever if your body temperature is higher than 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). A fever can lead to changes in your body that may lead to a headache.
Causes of fevers and headache pain
If you’re allergic to pollen, dust, animal dander or other triggers, you may get a headache. Two kinds of headache pain are linked to allergies: migraine attacks and sinus headaches.
Allergies may cause headaches due to nasal or sinus congestion. This happens when an allergic reaction makes the passageways inside and around your nose and mouth inflamed and swollen.
Allergy headache symptoms may include:
- Pain and pressure around your sinuses and eyes.
- Throbbing pain on one side of your head.
Allergies don’t typically cause a fever. However, they can make you more likely to get a viral or bacterial infection. This can lead to a fever and more headache pain.
Some kinds of bacteria can cause infections in your lungs, airways, sinuses around your nose, kidneys, urinary tract and other areas.
Bacterial infections can also happen through a wound or a cavity in your tooth. Some bacterial infections can spread throughout the body. This may be life-threatening and requires urgent treatment.
Symptoms of a bacterial infection depend on what area of the body it’s in. Common symptoms include fever and headaches. Symptoms of a bacterial infection in the lungs also include:
- Phlegm production
- Shortness of breath
- Chills and shaking
- Chest pain
- Muscle pain
Ear infections may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. They’re more common in children than in teens and adults.
They can cause a buildup of liquid inside the middle ear. This causes pressure and pain in and around the ear.
Ear infections can cause headaches and fever. See your doctor if you or your child has an ear infection. Some cases can cause lasting damage to the ears. Symptoms include:
- Ear pain
- Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty sleeping
Fever and headache pain are among the first symptoms of meningitis. This serious illness happens when an infection attacks the lining around the brain and spinal cord. A meningitis infection is usually caused by a virus, though bacterial and fungal infections can also be the cause.
Meningitis can happen to both children and adults. It can be life-threatening and require urgent medical treatment. Look for these symptoms of meningitis:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty waking up
- Lack of appetite and thirst
- Skin rash
Colds and flu
Colds and the flu are caused by viruses. A viral infection may give you a fever and cause headaches. Getting the flu or catching a cold can also make migraine attacks and cluster headaches worse.
Cold and flu viruses may cause inflammation, swelling and liquid to build up in your nose and sinuses that can lead to headache pain. Other cold and flu symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Sore eyes
- Pressure around eyes
- Sensitivity to sound or light
Heatstroke is also called sunstroke. Heatstroke happens when your body overheats, and this can happen if you’re in a very warm place for too long. Intense exercising in hot weather can also lead to heatstroke.
A heatstroke is an emergency condition. If not treated, it can lead to damage of the:
A fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or higher is the main symptom of a heatstroke. You may also have a throbbing headache. Other symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Flushed skin
- Hot, dry or moist skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Racing heart rate
- Slurred speech
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other kinds of inflammatory conditions may trigger fevers and headache pain. This kind of arthritis happens when your body mistakenly attacks your joints and other tissues.
About 40 percent of people with RA also have pain and other symptoms in areas such as the:
- Blood vessels
If you have RA, you may have a higher risk of infections. Some medications to treat RA and other autoimmune diseases can also raise your risk. This is because they work by slowing down immune system activity.
Infections, medications and stress due to RA may indirectly cause fever and headaches. Other symptoms of RA include:
- Joint swelling
- Warm, tender joints
- Loss of appetite
Certain medications can cause fever and headache pain. These include:
Taking too much pain-relieving medication, or taking it too often, can also cause headaches and other similar symptoms. These include migraine medications, opioids and over-the-counter pain relief medications.
If you have a headache from medication overuse, you may also have:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
The MMR and chickenpox vaccines can cause a fever one to four weeks after getting it. You may get a fever and headache because your body is reacting to the vaccine as it builds immunity against disease. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
Cancer and other serious illnesses can cause fever and headache pain. The American Cancer Society notes that it’s common for people with any type of cancer to have fevers. This is sometimes a sign that you also have an infection.
Other side effects include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. This can cause dehydration and involve eating too little. These effects may also trigger fever and headache pain.
Got a question, or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!