FEVER OF UNDETERMINED ORIGIN (FUO)
DESCRIPTIONFever of undetermined origen is a prolonged (2 to 3 weeks) temperature above normal for which no cause is evident. Any body organs or system which may be the source of a fever-producing condition may be involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Fever (measured rectally) for at least 2 weeks. Fever may be intermittent.
Collagen or autoimmune diseases.
Tumors and cancer, especially kidney cancer and leukemia.
Self-induced in some psychologically unstable children.
RISK FACTORSPoor nutrition.
Illness that has lowered your child's resistance.
Chemical or environmental exposure to polluted water or air.
Travel in areas with unsanitary conditions.
Exposure to others with contagious diseases.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCENo specific preventive measures.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor. Because fever may be the first evidence of a serious condition in an early stage, your doctor may recommend thorough diagnostic testing for your child.
Laboratory studies, such as blood studies and a urine culture (See Glossary).
Special studies that may include:
-- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A non-invasive (non-X-ray) computerized test that uses radio frequency energy and a powerful magnetic field to produce images with excellent detail (See Glossary).
-- Radionuclide Scan: A nuclear medicine procedure that uses radioactive isotopes injected into a patient. The isotope tracers are absorbed in various concentrations by targeted organs, which are then photographed (See Glossary).
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSDepends on the underlying condition causing the child's fever.
Spontaneous recovery in about 10% of cases. In other cases, the outcome depends on successful detection and treatment of the child's underlying disorder.
HOME CAREUntil the cause of your child's fever has been diagnosed, keep a daily temperature chart.
MEDICATIONFor minor discomfort, use non-prescription drugs such as acetaminophen. Until the underlying cause is determined, your doctor may withhold prescription drugs to avoid masking symptoms of the underlying disorder. Occasionally, in a critically ill child awaiting results of laboratory studies, the doctor may recommend a therapeutic trial of antibiotics or other drugs.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Bed rest may be advisable for your child.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has an unexplained fever that lasts longer than 24 hours.
New symptoms develop. They may provide a clue about the underlying cause of the child's fever.