Severe headache with fever? It could be a symptom of viral infection

Running a high fever and having headaches are two different symptoms that can be shrugged off when seen separately. However, severe headache with fever may just be a sign of something more serious. While such an eventuality need not necessarily mean a life-threatening illness, it is imperative that you visit a specialist at the earliest for a proper diagnosis and course of treatment.

“Headaches may be a cause for concern when accompanied by a fever, besides being a sign of some serious infection. This infection could be localised to the brain and/or spinal cord. For instance, meningitis, encephalitis or a brain abscess,” says Dr Haresh Tolia, a Delhi-based general physician who consults for medical app Lybrate.

“Apart from this, flu or other systemic or whole-body infections can also lead to headache and fever. Other possible health conditions are bleeding or a tumour in the brain. In most cases, these could be symptoms of some run-of-the-mill viral infection that needs to run its course before subsiding,” adds Dr Tolia.

So, what should one do when experiencing a fever headache? “Do not ignore any headache with high or low-grade fever. Consult a doctor to rule out any underlying health issues. It can be simple dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, acute sinusitis or flu, or serious brain fevers like meningitis or encephalitis. The red flags are altered mental status, vomiting and neck stiffness,” explains Dr K K Aggarwal, national president of the Indian Medical Association.

Dr Aggarwal suggests certain precautions (and home remedies) for those suffering from a fever headache.

1. Paracetamol can provide relief from pain and aches, besides fever.

2. Wet a piece of cloth and dab it at regular intervals on the forehead, arms and legs. This can help bring down fever.

3. Do not overheat yourself. Remove any extra piece of clothing. Overheating can cause the body temperature to rise and make symptoms worse.

4. Eat healthy foods. You can even opt for soups and other liquid foods to make you feel better.

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