Fever and headache


According to the medical definition, fever is an increase in body temperature to over 38 ° Celsius. Fever is an adjustment of the setpoint of the core body temperature: Whenever the brain wants to increase the temperature, this information is passed on from the brain stem to the nervous system of the entire body. Headache often accompanies a fever. When a headache occurs, it is not the brain substance itself that hurts, but the so-called meninges. This lies around the brain and, in addition to the nerve water, blood and lymph vessels, also contains sensitive nerve cells, through which the meninges can "perceive" pain stimuli. Such pain stimuli can then be triggered by the messenger substances released as a result of the inflammation or the lack of fluids caused by the fever. Fever caused by drugs or medication can often be accompanied by headaches.

Causes of Fever and Headache

Both fever and headache are very unspecific symptoms (so-called “general symptoms”), which means that they can occur in a variety of different clinical pictures. Reasons for the simultaneous occurrence of both symptoms are usually an inflammatory process in the body, triggered for example by a bacterial or viral infection.

This is mainly due to the fact that during the inflammatory reaction - as mentioned above - corresponding messenger substances are released which, among other things, cause blood vessels in the brain to expand. As a result, the brain substance swells slightly, and the meninges are stretched and thereby irritated. If the headache occurs after a long-lasting fever episode, the cause is usually a simple lack of fluids.

If there is a specific suspicion of an infection, greater attention should be paid to other complaints that give an indication of the origin or location of the infection, such as abdominal pain or diarrhea (gastrointestinal infection), pain when urinating (urinary tract infection), cold symptoms or Signs of meningitis. Meningitis can manifest itself as a stiff neck and the inability of the person to lift a leg or pull a knee to their chest while lying on their back. In addition to infection, simultaneous fever and headache can also be caused by chemical substances such as drugs or medication. Here it is advisable to look for clues as to the type and amount of the substance in order to enable appropriate and appropriate treatment.

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A cold or a flu-like infection is a common cause of fever and headache, but by no means the only one. First of all, a cold can just start, so the typical symptoms are not yet noticeable. Other infections not located in the ear, nose or respiratory tract can also trigger fever and simultaneous headaches. It is important to rule out meningitis as soon as possible, as this can cause long-term neurological damage if left untreated. Infections of the gastrointestinal or urinary tract can also cause symptoms. If no signs of infection can be found, an acute overdose of a drug or drug should be considered. Finally, hormonal disorders can also trigger fever and headaches.

Concomitant symptoms

As mentioned, both fever and headache are general symptoms that can indicate a variety of diseases and causes. Accordingly, they can be associated with a variety of different symptoms.

First and foremost, the typical symptoms of an infection are mentioned here, for example cold or flu symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, mucus in the airways, fatigue and body aches.

Learn more about Fever with aching limbs.

However, infections in other organ systems such as the gastrointestinal or urinary tract can also cause fever and headache and then cause corresponding symptoms. Caution is advised when back pain in the spinal column is added and this is exacerbated when one leg is lifted in the supine position or one knee is pulled towards the chest. This is usually an indication of an inflammation of the meninges and should be clarified as soon as possible.

Read more about the topic here: Fever and back pain.


Like diarrhea, vomiting combined with fever and headache can indicate an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. The body also loses a lot of fluids through vomiting, and the resulting deficiency can in turn cause headaches. A fever is another of the body's reactions to the infection.It should be clarified what could be causing the infection. In addition, if traces of blood are seen in the vomit, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

Even with increased intracranial pressure, nausea, dizziness and thus vomiting can occur. A doctor should be consulted, especially in the event of vomiting without prior food intake or the onset of the symptom delayed before the onset of the fever, as this may be an infection of the brain or meninges.


Diarrhea accompanying fever and headache usually indicates an infection that is localized in the gastrointestinal tract. According to the definition, one speaks of diarrhea or diarrhea if a liquid stool is emptied more than three times a day. Like fever, diarrhea is a reaction to an inflammatory process, as the infectious pathogen should be flushed out of the body. However, a lot of fluid is flushed out of the body, which can lead to dehydration (drainage). Since this in turn can lead to headaches, it is advisable to drink a lot of water in the case of diarrhea in order to compensate for this deficiency as early as possible.

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Of course, the treatment of fever and headache should be tailored to the cause.

Regardless of the cause, or if it cannot be precisely determined, a few general therapeutic steps are recommended to alleviate the symptoms. As a first and probably the simplest measure, it is recommended to drink plenty of water, juice spritzers or unsweetened tea. This compensates for the lack of fluids that usually occurs with attacks of fever, and at the same time eliminates a cause of the headache. Certain home remedies can also help with fever and headache relief. If the fever and headache persist, drug therapy can also be considered in consultation with the doctor. This is then done with analgesic (pain reliever) and fever lowering agents. However, when treating symptoms exclusively, it should always be borne in mind that fever is part of a defensive reaction in the body and that there is therefore a cause that needs to be treated.

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Home remedies

As a simple, inexpensive and quickly available method of treating fever and headache, there are various home remedies that are aimed at both symptom relief and can combat the cause, if infectious.

Probably the best-known home remedy for lowering fever is the calf wraps: For this purpose, some cloths are dipped in warm water of about 30-35 ° C and then wrapped tightly around the calves in one to two layers. The body temperature can be lowered quite reliably by around 1 ° C within an hour. Natural pain-relieving substances such as willow bark extract can be used against headaches. The spiciness of peppermint oil or ginger extract, when applied to the temples and rubbed in, can provide relief.

The most important and probably the simplest home remedy for headache and fever is rest and sleep, as well as drinking plenty of water and making sure that you get a vitamin supply through fresh vegetables or fruit.

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In homeopathy, one must always consider the entire clinical picture presented in connection with the entire personality of the person concerned in order to find the right remedy based on the resulting “drug picture”. Therefore, no general drug recommendation can be made at this point.

Nevertheless, two homeopathic remedies should be addressed that are often used for both headache and fever. Bryonia can be the right remedy if the affected person suffers from a flu-like infection, a cold, a fever and headache. Suitable symptoms from the remedy picture for Bryonia are a strong need for rest, preferring cold to warmth, dry lips, skin and mucous membranes and strong thirst. Gastrointestinal complaints, such as an infection in this area, also fall under the scope of Bryonia.

The second remedy is often the use of Nux vomica. This remedy can help especially if the symptoms are triggered by the gastrointestinal tract or at least accompanied by severe symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract. For example, this could be heartburn, constipation or nausea. The improvement of symptoms through warmth is also a sign that Nux vomica can help.

When do you have to see a doctor?

One of the alarm symptoms for which a visit to a doctor is advisable is the severity and severity of the fever or headache.

If the fever rises to over 40.5 ° C, one speaks in the medical field of extreme fever or hyperpyrexia. Such very high temperatures should be clarified professionally. In the case of headaches, attention should be paid to the intensity, course and localization of the pain: If the pain became more and more severe over several days, this indicates a progressive process and should definitely be clarified by a doctor.

Even if the headache is accompanied by stiff neck and limbs, professional help should be sought, as this can be an indication of meningitis. If this is suspected, you should test the freedom of movement of the neck and also try to see whether you can move a knee towards your chest while lying on your back without causing pain in the spine.

Special features in children

In children - just like in adults - fever is initially a defense reaction to an infection or, in the much rarer case, to poisoning. The basic measures can also be copied from adults with a fever. Many of these measures are also recommended for headaches, such as drinking plenty of water or sugar-free tea and staying in bed. Calf compresses, fever-lowering suppositories or paracetamol can be used to reduce fever.

It should be borne in mind that the fever as a protective measure certainly has a purpose and should therefore not be lowered immediately. The maximum daily dose must also be observed with paracetamol. If you have a fever that lasts longer than a day or rises above 39 ° C, you should consult a pediatrician or family doctor. Medical help should also be obtained if severe diarrhea or vomiting occurs. A rash should also be perceived as an alarm symptom, as it can indicate an infectious childhood disease. In preparation for this, you can try the methods mentioned above to lower the fever yourself, and also create a temperature profile with the help of regular measurements.

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When the fever and headache and any accompanying symptoms go away, depends largely on their cause. An infection should at least subside after a few days, if not even go away completely. If the trigger is a long-term hormone disorder, a speedy recovery is not to be expected - a specialist must usually be consulted in order to identify the responsible dysregulation of the hormone balance and to treat it appropriately.

In principle, you should go to the doctor at the latest if the symptoms persist for more than three days, get worse or more intense, or if there are indications of meningitis


While the diagnosis of fever is made by simply measuring the temperature with an appropriate clinical thermometer, the headache, as a sensation perceived by the person concerned, can only be diagnosed through a conversation or a statement.

According to the medical definition, fever begins at a temperature of 38 ° C, sometimes 38.5 ° C is also given as the limit. Temperatures below 37 ° C or more are referred to as “subfebrile”, i.e. below the fever. Since a fever and a headache together can indicate a number of possible symptoms. Therefore, if such symptoms persist for several days, they should lead to a certain diagnosis. Particular attention should be paid to a possible infection or inflammatory reaction - this can usually be detected by blood and urine tests.

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