When your child comes down with a fever, you likely immediately begin looking for a cause. While it is sometimes easy to determine what ailment is leading to your child’s temperature spike, there are instances in which childhood fever goes unexplained for a long period of time. These unexplained fevers can prove stressful to parents eager to help their children overcome their ailments and get back to their old ready-to-play selves.
Fevers of Unknown Origin
While it may seem uncommon for people to develop fevers with no known cause, it is actually quite common. It is so common, in fact, that doctors have a name for the phenomenon. Medical professionals refer to unexplained fevers as fevers of unknown origin, or FUO. A fever of unknown origin is defined as a fever of at least 101 degrees Fahrenheit that appears constantly or intermittently for more than three weeks, reports MedicineNet.
In most cases, unexplained fevers are caused by unidentified infections. In many cases, the child’s body is becoming feverish in an attempt to fight off an infectious invader. In some cases, the fever-causing infection can be thwarted by this fever, and the child will recover. In other instances, the ailment is one that can’t be cured, such as HIV, and the child will ultimately be diagnosed and treated for the malady.
Potential Cancer Sign
As MedlinePlus reports, many fevers of unknown origin are an early indication of cancer. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of all fevers of unknown origin stem from cancer, reports MedicineNet. Because of the real risk that childhood unexplained fever is the result of an early stage cancer, most pediatricians take fevers of this type very seriously and do a battery of tests to ensure that the child’s fever is not the result of this potentially life-threatening medical condition.
How to Help
As the person who knows your child best, you can be the most help to your pediatrician by being on the lookout for other symptoms. If your child is suffering from an unexplained fever, watch him closely and be on the lookout for other signs of illness. Any symptoms you can identify, however minor, can help your pediatrician diagnose, and ultimately treat, your child.
When There is No Answer
While it would seem like all of the medical advances over the last several decades would make it possible to find the root of every fever, this is unfortunately not the case. As MedicineNet reports, 5 to 15 percent of the unexplained fevers that doctors see will never be explained. If your child falls into this group, rest assured with the knowledge that of these 5 to 15 percent of people, most move on to have no ill effects as the result of their undiagnosed fever.