Can Stress Cause Fever?

You may not know that stress can affect you physically. Stress can affect the body in many different ways. The physical symptoms may appear after a traumatic event in your life, in dealing with family, and when you are pressured at your job. Stress is a normal healthy reaction that helps us stay “on top of things” that we need to complete. However, it may spiral us down if we don’t learn how to control it. When stress begins to make us physically ill, the issue needs to be addressed.

Can Stress Cause Fever?

It isn’t common for stress to give you a fever. However, there have been reports of a low-grade fever with increased stress and anxiety attacks that occur with it. Generally, stress lowers your immune system and may affect your ability to ward off an impending infection. In this case, stress may be the underlying cause of even a higher fever.

In cases of a higher than “low-grade” fever, there have been a few studies on something called “psychogenic fever,” that may be psychosomatic in nature. There have been findings that some may run fever with only symptoms of stress or a recent history of a traumatic and stressful event. This is also known as functional hyperthermia and seems to be triggered by the nervous system in response to increased adrenal hormones or adrenaline. Studies continue on this phenomenon with possible treatments to treat the stress and physical effects on the body.

Other Factors Causing Fever

The question really is if the body temperature even gets to a point that needs evaluation and treatment. Researchers agree that it isn’t common for stress to cause the body temperature to rise over 99.0 F. Any factors can cause the body temperature to run around this temperature. Factors like dehydration, hot weather, and excess clothing can all raise the body temperature. Keep in mind that even these physical outside factors can cause physical stress on the body and raise the temperature slightly.

How Stress Is Connected to Fever

The explanation found in studies is that stress may cause our body to release substances in response to stress that cause temporary inflammation in the body. These substances affect the temperature control in the brain called the, hypothalamus. The reaction may only last a few minutes or may even become chronic, but studies continue on this subject.

If you are still wondering, “Can stress cause fever?” or even an anxiety attack due to stress, there are some cases where this has happened. There are other symptoms that may also occur in times of increased stress, including:

  • Feeling hot/cold or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of glands
  • Feeling generally sick
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Overall aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches (tension)

If these symptoms pop-up during times of stress and disappear when you are more relaxed then there may be nothing to worry about. A fever due to stress should never go over 99.5 F. If it does go higher or lasts for more than a few hours, then you might need to see your doctor for further evaluation.

How to Manage Stress-Induced Fever

Can stress cause fever? Yes it can. If you develop a low-grade fever in response to stress, you first need to try and calm your body down. At the onset of stress and anxiety, take steps to try and relax as much as possible. Take slow deep breaths and wait for the attack to subside. If you begin to notice signs of a fever, take your temperature.

And here are some steps to take in the event of a stress or anxiety related fever:

1.    Breathe

It is important to practice well-controlled breathing if you are feeling stressed. Breathe slowly and deeply. Take a slow walk away from the situation. Stop your car if you are driving. Sit with your feelings and let them go with each breath.

2.    Cooling Measures

After you take your temperature, start cooling measures right away. Remove any unnecessary clothing like sweaters or jackets. Dress in a light T-Shirt and light pants. Place a cool cloth on your head and open a window if you can. Studies show that fever reducing medications are usually not effective for stress or anxiety related fevers.

3.    Keep a Journal

Fevers are hard to attribute to stress alone. If you find yourself suffering from stress induced fevers on a regular basis, try keeping a journal. Note the time the fever began, what your temperature was, and how you were feeling emotionally at the time. Also, note any physically stresses you were under at the time. For example, note exercise, the temperature outside, heavy work in hot conditions, etc. If you do need to see a doctor, this will help with a diagnosis.

4.    Try Calming Remedies

Studies do show that medications to relieve stress help reduce stress related fevers. If you don’t want to use prescription medication, there are herbal remedies that may help. Make sure you check for interactions with other medications first. Stress and anxiety reducing herbs include:

  • Valerian root
  • Chamomile
  • St. John's Wort
  • Lemon balm
  • Lavender
  • Passionflower
  • Feverfew (reduces fever)
  • Ashwagandha
  • L-theanine (substance in green tea)
  • Hops

5.    Meditate

If you notice the onset of stress and begin to feel your temperature rise, stop! Stop whatever you are doing and meditate. Try to clear the things from your mind that make you feel nervous and uptight. Every time a thought enters your mind, whisk it away until there is nothing on your mind at all. Try to hold this for at least 5 to 10 minutes.

How to Prevent It

Can stress cause fever? Stress can cause many physical reactions in the body and over time may cause serious illness. The best step to prevent physical reactions to stress is to try and prevent stress. Sometimes this is easier said than done, and a small amount of stress can be productive. It is all about finding a balance.

The number one way to prevent physical effects of stress is to remember to take quiet time for yourself every day. Give yourself the time that you deserve for you. You may be extremely busy at work or at home, so fit yourself into your busy schedule and take a break for at least one hour each day.

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