Unexplained Fever
May 19, 2010 11:55 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine at work has an eleven-year-old son who, about once a month, comes down with a fever of between 102 and 104 degrees that lasts for about 2 days.

He has no other symptoms. My friend has taken him to a few doctors, he's ended up in the emergency room at least once when the fever was really high, he's had a full body scan, blood work, they've tested for rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma and everything else they can think of. Everything comes back negative. Understandably, my friend is very frustrated and worried.

You are not my doctor. You are not her doctor. But does anybody have familiarity with these kind of symptoms (or lack of)? What should be her next step? Is there a particular kind of doctor she should see? We're in New York City.

Thanks so much.
posted by Evangeline to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Take a look at this webpage from the Cleveland Clinic. It gives a list of some possible causes of recurrent fever.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:03 PM on May 19, 2010

IANAD (but IA sorry that your friend's kid is sick... poor guy). Something your friend may wish to try which can't hurt, might help: start keeping painstaking notes on Fever-Kid... not just on fever-days, but on normal days as well. Sleep/wake times, diet, weight, appearance, physical activity, etc. Assuming it's not too invasive for her or her kiddo, it may be of use to a good pediatrician/GP.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: blood work, they've tested for rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma and everything else they can think of.

Has he been tested for Lyme? Is it possible he somehow contracted Malaria?
posted by anastasiav at 12:50 PM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not sure what else he's been tested for, only that they did a full work-up and tested him for everything they could think of.

Again, his only symptom is fever, so malaria and lyme disease seem unlikely.
posted by Evangeline at 12:54 PM on May 19, 2010

Check for urinary tract infections -- I used to get mad fevers with those when I was a kid.
posted by vickyverky at 12:58 PM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: My sister did this for months. It was Lyme, something that they did not bother to test her for in the first place. Later she developed more symptoms (joint pain etc), so then they tested her. Since it had been months, she has permanent damage. It is a simple test that is still overlooked in some areas (our area is very highly infected and it is now thought of right away but maybe not where you are). She also did not have the "bulls eye" rash so no indication of getting bit by a deer tick.

Worth checking to see if he was checked for this.
posted by maxg94 at 1:27 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all! I'll pass this along to her. I'll update if she ever gets a diagnosis.
posted by Evangeline at 1:45 PM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: Nthing Lyme disease. Also, see if you can find a Lyme specialist in your area, as many general practitioners don't really know how to treat it and its variable symptoms (and often don't know how to accurately test for it!).
posted by ellenaim at 2:03 PM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: lyme
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:31 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: UPDATE! So I managed to get in touch with her while she was on the way to the hospital on Wednesday, and when she got there she asked the doctor to test for Lyme (which I can't believe they didn't test for before). She got the results last night, and it's Lyme disease! Which is good, because they can start him on antibiotics now, and since they caught it before the disease progressed to his joints and stuff, he should be fine.

You guys are awesome. She is very, very grateful, as am I.
posted by Evangeline at 6:48 AM on May 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

Evangeline, that is terrific news. Lyme is a pernicious bugger, it can show in all kinds of different ways. I'm so glad he's on his way to recovery.

Yet again, Metafilter saves lives.
posted by anastasiav at 8:10 AM on May 21, 2010

As someone from southwest CT who suffered through Lyme for 7 years (which I got when I was 11, treated partially when I was 12, and had to go through serious treatment from 16-18), I will have to say, point them in the direction of the Columbia University Lyme + Tickborne Diseases Research center, it is located in NYC, so it is the ideal place for him.

It's something you really don't want to mess around with, or assume that just because he finished the six week oral antibiotic treatment that any future symptoms or illness can't be lyme related.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks mrzarquon! I'll pass this on to her.
posted by Evangeline at 9:17 AM on May 21, 2010

Also, get make sure the kid gets a case or two of yogurt, some probiotics, a big floppy hat, sunglasses, and a camelbak or something to keep fluids in. The antibiotic treatments for lyme will usually nuke his good gut bugs, increase sun sensitivity (I started on doxy as I was vacationing in florida, worst sunburn ever, even under 40spf), and made me majorly dehydrated (which combined with prior gut bug death made me feel even more miserable). The antibiotics may not make him feel the greatest for the next few weeks, but they are worth it compared to the alternatives.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2010

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