Monday, October 31, 2016

Fever : What questions to ask your patient and why

So we're familiar with the definition and measurement of fever. But while taking a case or interacting with a patient with this simple and most basic symptom , what all should we ask for to make sure we don't miss out on anything ?
Here's a list of things your Historytaking should elicit :
Ask for :

1. Onset and Duration.
When did the fever begin - and for how long has it lasted. (This would give a clue whether the person suffers from an Acute Febrile Illness - which can generally be attributed to Infectious Disease , or a rather Chronic form of fever which could be due to Granulomatous diseases or even Neoplastic and Autoimmune conditions )

2. Progression.
(Has it worsened or Become better since its onset. This gives a clue about the present status of the patient. )

3. Chills , Rigors , Sweat .
(It's essential to include the presence or absence  of chills+Rigors + Sweat immediately in the fever description. Presence of Chills and Rigors indicate any infectious process in the body and can be found in Malaria and UTI's among other conditions. Sweating after feeling hot and then cold  is characteristically associated with Malaria)
(Important : Presence of the B Symptoms - which are Night Sweats ; Fever ; Weight loss. Seen with Lymphomas and TB)

4. Periodicity .
(It's of extreme value to understand the pattern of the fever.
If the fever is present throughout the day with a variation of not more than 1°C it is of the Continuous Type : As seen in Enteric Fever and even UTI's .
If the fever is present throughout the day but the variation is more than 1°C it is of the 'Remittent' variety. It may not be possible to distinguish between these 2 on history alone.
Intermittent is when the fever stays only for some duration during the day and the patient is afebrile during the remaining part )

5. Diurnal variation ?
(Night rise of fever could be suggestive of Tuberculosis)

6. Associated with Rash or any Spots ?
(Viral exanthems like Dengue , Chikungunya , Zika or even Rickettsial diseases commonly present with some form of rashes)
(Another possibility could be a primary Skin condition induced fever )

7. Arthralgia , Myalgia ?   
(Arboviruses like Dengue and Chikungunya are infamous for these. Arthralgia is especially debilitating in Chikungunya fever. Body ache is also common in both. Retro-orbital pain and Bifrontal headache are common with Dengue.)

8.  Icterus , High colored urine.
(Presence of these  - especially during the post monsoon season should raise suspicion of Leptospirosis or Acute Viral hepatitis. Enteric fever may be considered)

9. Cough , weight loss?
(Presence of these should raise query of TB or Pneumonia )

10. Dysuria, urgency , frequency?
( UTI is a common cause of AFI especially in Diabetics )

11. Altered sensorium, photophobia , vomiting ?
( Characteristic of Meningitis /Encephalitis)

12. Eating outside , GI disturbances ? (Enteric fever or Gastroenteritis should be suspected )

I hope this gave a crisp summary of how a fever case can be approached . Goodbye ! Happy-Treating !


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