Fever and diarrhea
What are fever and diarrhea?
If diarrhea and fever occur together, it is usually an infectious disease. Infectious diarrheal diseases can manifest themselves in watery, mushy or bloody stools and are accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. Infectious diseases with diarrhea and fever are often self-limiting. This means that they often stop on their own after a few days without special treatment.
In elderly and immunocompromised people, such a disease can last longer and be complicated. Bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella or Clostridium difficile are often responsible. Viruses, for example rota or noroviruses, and parasites such as amoebas and lambliae are also possible causes of febrile diarrhea.
Read more on the topic: When should I see a doctor with a fever?
Medication to prevent diarrhea is usually not necessary. Often enough fluids are enough and wait until the symptoms subside on their own. Medicinal charcoal and herbal remedies such as extracts from the uzara roots or pectin from the apple can alleviate the symptoms.
Medicines like loperamide inhibit strong bowel movements and should not be taken for more than two days and only under medical supervision. Occasionally, probiotics are taken for diarrhea. Probiotics like probiotic yogurt have a positive effect on the intestinal flora. Home remedies such as plenty of fluids, tea and the right foods are often sufficient.
Mild fever is also often treated with home remedies in adults. Infants and young children are at risk of febrile seizures. Therefore, babies and children should always be examined by a doctor if they have a fever. Classic antipyretic drugs are paracetamol, ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®). Acetylsalicylic acid is not suitable for children.
Read more on the subject at: Medication for diarrhea
If acute diarrhea occurs, the symptoms often improve on their own after one to three days. Drinks such as tap water, still mineral water and herbal teas are recommended to compensate for the fluid and electrolyte loss caused by the diarrhea. Fennel, peppermint, chamomile and blueberry teas are great home remedies for diarrhea. Black tea also contains tannins that can soothe an irritated bowel. In order to compensate for the water loss, it is particularly important to drink a lot. Carbonated drinks and whole milk should be avoided in the case of diarrhea.
A traditional home remedy is grated apple. The pectin it contains acts as a swelling substance and soothes the intestinal mucosa. You can eat well-tolerated foods such as rusks, crispbread, mashed banana, low-fat meat, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs or porridge. You should avoid greasy, spicy dishes, sweets and legumes if you have diarrhea.
In addition to home remedies for diarrhea, there are tricks to lower the fever naturally. A teaspoon of honey in tea is said to have a positive effect on the immune system. A tried and tested home remedy for a fever is vinegar stockings. To do this, you soak belly wool knee socks in a mixture of 4/5 water and 1/5 apple cider vinegar. You squeeze out the stockings and put them on. You can wrap your legs in a towel or a blanket and wear them for 45 to 60 minutes. The acidity of the apple cider vinegar promotes the release of heat through the skin. In addition, a damp cloth on the forehead helps with a fever.
Washes are another popular home remedy for natural fever lowering. To do this, a sponge or cloth is dipped in water that is 5 to 10 ° C cooler than body temperature. You rub the body with it from top to bottom and from outside to inside. The moistened body parts are then wrapped in towels. After a wash, you should take a break for half an hour before doing another wash.
Read more on the subject at: Home remedies to treat diarrhea
Globules that specifically treat the symptoms of fever and diarrhea do not exist in this form. With watery diarrhea and vomiting, globules with Arsenicum album are supposed to provide relief. The remedy can also be used for febrile infections. General measures such as plenty of fluids and broth are also recommended in homeopathy.
Read more about the topic at: Homeopathy for diarrhea
When do I have to see a doctor?
If the fever and diarrhea persist for several days and the symptoms show no signs of improvement, you should see a doctor after 3 days. Many infections that cause fever and diarrhea are self-limiting and go away on their own after 2 to 3 days.
Babies and young children have a low threshold for developing febrile seizures when they have a fever. You should therefore go to the pediatrician with your child if they have a fever. In toddlers and school children, fever should be approached carefully and the pediatrician should be consulted before drug therapy.
Self-limiting diarrheal diseases that are accompanied by a fever often go away on their own after one to three days. This applies, for example, to food poisoning such as salmonellosis. Other diseases that cause fever and diarrhea may last longer. In Yersinia diarrhea can last up to 14 days. Yersiniosis complications, such as joint problems, can occur weeks to months later.
Special features in children
Diarrhea and fever in children are not only uncomfortable but also extremely worrying. Children become dehydrated quickly and are usually not as conscious as adults that they have to drink more if they have diarrhea. Children dry out faster than adults. Dry mucous membranes, a dry mouth, hardly any tears and insufficient urine production are signs of pronounced dehydration. Severe dehydration usually requires hospitalization in children.
Rotaviruses are dangerous for children and can lead to life-threatening dehydration, especially in infants and young children. The Robert Koch Institute therefore even recommends oral vaccination with rotaviruses for babies. In children, one speaks of a high fever above 39 ° C. Temperatures above 41.5 ° C are seriously life-threatening for children, as the body's own proteins are destroyed. Children develop a fever faster than adults, especially young children. Babies and children are prone to developing febrile convulsions when they have a high fever. Similar to an epileptic seizure, a febrile seizure causes the child to lose consciousness and twitch all over for a few minutes.
A high fever and diarrhea that lasts for days can lead to complications in children and therefore require medical attention.
Read more at: Diarrhea in babies / diarrhea in toddlers
Causes of Fever and Diarrhea
Febrile diarrheal diseases are usually infectious. The symptoms are often caused by bacteria or viruses, rarely parasites. Usually bacteria are responsible for the symptoms. Salmonella is transmitted, for example, through poultry meat and eggs. They cause watery diarrhea and fever. When infected with Shigella, the diarrhea is often bloody and associated with abdominal cramps.
Viral infectious diseases are caused, for example, by rotaviruses and noroviruses. Rotaviruses are transmitted through drinking water and from person to person. Infants and small children are particularly at risk. The norovirus is highly contagious and causes fever, watery diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Parasites are less likely to be responsible for the infection. Amoebas lead to bloody-greenish jelly-like diarrhea and are often associated with long-distance travel. Lamblia occur in warm countries and cause fever and watery diarrhea.
Viruses cause fever and diarrhea
The norovirus is a highly contagious, insidious virus that causes diarrhea, especially in winter. A severe fever may occur with norovirus infection. However, the symptoms often end within 48 hours.
Read more about this at: Norovirus - how dangerous is it?
Rotaviruses are dangerous to infants and young children. Those affected suffer from fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Proper hygiene can help reduce infection.
Bacteria as a cause of diarrhea and fever
Salmonella are bacteria that are often ingested with food. They reproduce better the warmer it is. After hours to a few days they cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever.
In addition to salmonella, Campylobacter are the most common cause of diarrhea and fever, especially in the summer months. Unlike salmonella, these bacteria do not multiply in food, but they are often ingested through foods such as poultry. Infection causes severe diarrhea, fever, and joint and muscle pain.
In addition, the bacterium Clostridium difficile is a resistant intestinal germ that often becomes noticeable after taking antibiotics. Clostridium difficile infection causes nausea, fever, and diarrhea.
Food poisoning as a cause of fever and diarrhea
Food poisoning is often caused by certain types of bacteria. Salmonellosis is caused by salmonella and leads to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever. Fever and vomiting can also be symptoms of food poisoning caused by Listeria. One speaks of a listeriosis. If the bacteria spread in organ systems or even the meninges is dangerous and should be treated.
Food poisoning with diarrhea and fever can also be caused by various other bacteria, for example Campylobacter, Yersinia and Shigella.
Read more on the subject at: Food poisoning
The diagnosis begins with a thorough anamnesis discussion. The duration, texture, color of the stool and the frequency of bowel movements are important for a history of diarrhea. The determination of the temperature curve, i.e. when the temperature was how high, and the current body temperature are checked. A physical examination with palpation and listening of the abdomen is part of the process. A blood sample is taken to check inflammatory parameters in the blood.
Depending on the suspected diagnosis, further examinations such as a colonoscopy, X-ray of the bowel or other imaging procedures may be considered.
Depending on the cause of the symptoms, fever and diarrhea, other symptoms may occur. If the condition is caused by food poisoning, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and mucus or blood in the stool can also occur. The result is often dehydration (withdrawal of water).
Campylobacter bacterial infections also cause muscle and joint pain.
Headaches often occur as a result of the fever and dehydration from the diarrhea. Headaches can be dull or sharp and come on slowly or suddenly. Antipyretic drugs are often pain relievers and can relieve both symptoms. If the headache is caused by a lack of fluids, you should make sure to drink a lot. Headache can also be a direct symptom of an infection, for example an infection with the Campylobacter bacterium.
Food poisoning and bacterial infection are common causes of vomiting and diarrhea. For example, high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain occur in food poisoning caused by salmonella. Campylobacter also causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. The symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting often occur at the same time and are colloquially referred to as gastrointestinal flu or enteritis.
Stomach cramps are severe stomach pains that often occur in short periods of time. Abdominal pain and stomach cramps are common symptoms that accompany fever and diarrhea, especially after food poisoning. Campylobacter is very often transmitted through poultry meat. The Campylobacter bacterium causes fever, headache and muscle pain, stomach cramps, nausea and severe diarrhea.
Joint pain is a less common symptom associated with diseases associated with fever and diarrhea. Yersinia are germs that lead to diarrhea. Young children are particularly susceptible to the bacteria. Reactive arthritis can develop as a complication after infection. This means that joint pain can occur even after symptoms such as diarrhea and fever have subsided. If you suddenly suffer from joint pain, you should definitely mention previous (diarrhea) infections to your doctor.