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Fever

Migraine attacks can have a range of symptoms. These migraine symptoms vary from person to person. Some people with migraine report fever during migraine.

Warning:

Fever may be a sign of a more serious or life-threatening condition such as stroke, meningitis or encephalitis. Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience fever, particularly if the fever comes along with a stiff neck, problems speaking, lack of balance, facial weakness, weakness in the arms or legs or fainting.

Description of fever

For an adult, when the body’s temperature is at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered a fever. For children, the temperature is considered fever depending on where it is measured in the body.

Children have a fever when the temperature is at or above:

  • Rectally: 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Orally: 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Underarm: 99 degrees Fahrenheit

What causes fever during a migraine attack?

It is difficult to say what causes different migraine symptoms. Sometimes symptoms that occur are caused by the same bodily functions that cause migraine pain. In other cases, the symptoms can be because of another disorder or ailment that occurs at the same time as the migraine attack. Fever is a fairly rare symptom of migraine.1

Why fever occurs with migraine?

Fever may occur with migraine, although this is rare. While the cause is not known for certain, it is thought to be related to a small area of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus helps to control things like hunger, hormones, and body temperature. If you do have a fever with migraine, it’s best to call your doctor because fever is a systemic symptom and there may be something else going on to cause the fever.2-4

How fever is treated?

Fever doesn’t always have to be treated with medication. Sometimes you can just let it run its course. In adults, fevers up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit can generally be treated with rest and lots of fluids. Above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can be taken.5 If the fever continues for more than 3 days or you also have a stiff neck or other symptoms, call your doctor. If you successfully treat your migraine symptoms but the fever lingers, call your doctor.

Poll

Tracking your migraine symptoms

Keeping a record of your migraine symptoms may help you figure out patterns and triggers to your attacks. It may be helpful to record such things as:

  • When and where your pain or symptoms start
  • Whether the pain spreads to your entire head or neck
  • How well and how quickly acute treatment helps reduce the pain or other symptoms
  • How long your pain or symptoms last
  • Whether you experience other symptoms such as vision changes, nausea, or light sensitivity

Community experiences of migraine and fever

Migraine.com advocates frequently write about their experiences with migraine symptoms, including fever. Though fever is a rare symptom, some have talked about how fever has impacted their work and sleep patterns. In an article highlighting less talked about symptoms, several community members shared examples of fever presenting as a migraine symptom. Others have talked about how it feels to get sick and have a fever in addition to living with chronic migraine. For some people, an increase in body temperature might occur at the onset or during a migraine attack and several in the community have shared their experiences of having a low-grade fever when this occurs.

Written by: Jessica Johns Pool | Last review date: December 2019
  1. Migraine Headaches. Cleveland Clinic. Available at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/5005-migraine-headaches Accessed 11/21/19.
  2. Ordas CM, Cuadrado ML, Rodriguez-Cambron AB, et al. Increase in body temperature during migraine attacks. Pain Med 2013 Aug; 14(8): 1260-4. Doi: 10.1111/pme.12145
  3. Headache “Red Flags:” When to See Your Doctor. American Migraine Foundation. Available at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/headache-red-flags-when-to-see-your-doctor/ Accessed 11/21/19.
  4. Hypothalamus. MedlinePlus. Available at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002380.htm. Accessed 11/21/19.
  5. Fever Treatment: Quick Guide to Treating a Fever. Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/in-depth/fever/art-20050997 Accessed 11/21/19.