Surprising Causes of a Fever in Seniors

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDDecember 15th, 2020
Caring for a senior with the flu

You’re feeling feverish: cheeks are flushed, chills are rattling your body, clammy sweat lines your brow, and body aches are keeping you under the covers. If you feel like you have a fever, odds are you do! But why is this happening? Could it be a sign of something serious?

Everyone experiences illness differently; your fever might be a mild reaction to a new irritant or a sign that your body is fighting off a serious infection. It could also be a symptom of an unknown or surprising cause. Your age, overall health, and environment can all influence how your body reacts to new irritants. To stay in the know about what causes fever in your age group and when to seek prompt medical attention, we’ve put together this guide—which highlights some surprising causes behind fevers in seniors.


What is Your Fever Telling You?

Most adults know what a fever is, but the cause and reason behind this bodily reaction is something many don’t understand. Before delving into the surprising causes of a fever in seniors and why this symptom should be closely monitored, here’s a quick overview of some popular fever causes and symptoms:

Common Fever Causes & Symptoms

Fevers come in all shapes and sizes, affecting every individual differently. In adults, this temporary increase in body temperature (100.4°

F or greater) is often due to an illness or infection; it’s typically a sign that something abnormal is happening with your health. A fever will likely feel uncomfortable, with common symptoms including:

Surprising Causes of Fever

While most adults understand the basics of fevers and know that it can be an overarching symptom of illness, there are some unknown and surprising causes of fevers for certain populations. In seniors, a fever could be a sign of a much more serious health concern or a reaction to a new medication. Here are some surprising causes of fevers in seniors:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By now, you’ve probably heard that coronavirus (COVID-19) causes respiratory symptoms like severe coughing and difficulty breathing. But did you know that it can also cause a fever? Experts are still learning about COVID-19, and the symptoms list continues to update. For at-risk populations, monitoring any symptoms related to COVID-19 could prove valuable for future treatment. Seniors are included in these groups of people at high risk where contraction of the virus could lead to serious health complications. If you or your loved one has a high fever in addition to other

COVID-19 symptoms, get tested and take proper precautions.

The takeaways: When compared to younger adults, a fever in a senior is much more likely to be associated with a serious viral or bacterial infection. However, a fever in any person could be cause for concern and should be closely monitored (along with any accompanying symptoms) to ensure proper treatment is administered.

When to Seek Treatment for Adult Fever

If you or your loved one has a high fever of known or unknown origin and it reaches 103°

F or higher, seek immediate medical attention. Fevers above 104°

F are dangerous if left unattended, potentially causing brain damage. Adults and seniors should also seek prompt medical care if a fever is accompanied by:

DispatchHealth’s In-Home Care

When dealing with a high fever, the last thing you should be doing is arranging for transportation or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to seek out medical care. Instead of fighting your way to the nearest urgent care center, reach out to DispatchHealth. We’re on-demand healthcare experts that provide acute medical care, treatment, and testing to people of all ages in the comfort and safety of their homes. Our personalized service is geared to those who would rather skip the trip to the ER and receive wholesome medical attention in a familiar environment. And as a result, we have helped thousands of patients benefit from a stress-free healthcare experience that puts their needs first.


To learn more about how DispatchHealth’s on-demand service works, explore this link! We are also responding to COVID-19, providing testing and increased patient support. Requesting care is as easy as contacting us via phone, mobile app, or website.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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