What Causes Fever and Night Sweats?

Fever and night sweats can be both a sign or a symptom of illness, injury, or disease. It’s a common symptom of mesothelioma and other cancers too, mostly when the disease has already progressed to later stages. These conditions encompass a condition where the body’s temperature rises higher than average in reaction to an outside factor. Additionally, while both fever and night sweats are a product of rising body temperatures, night sweats also involve episodes of heavy sweating and perspiration. In some cases, clothes or sheets will be drenched with sweat.

When the body heats up above normal, that causes a fever, in reaction to this, the body may start excessively sweating at night because it’s trying to cool itself down from being too hot in the first place. This is a system that works to regulate body temperature while fighting illness. More specifically, illnesses can include tumor growth, inflammation, autoimmune trouble, and infections among others.

Why Do Fevers Happen?

The average healthy person’s body temperature is (approximately) between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, with any results higher than usually indicating a fever. Fever and night sweats are how the body reacts to fight antigens, allergens, pathogens, irritants, and anything else it sees as harmful. This works because fever-range hyperthermia has been known to encourage the generation of T-cells, which help to fight tumor and virus-infected cells. Additionally, the hotter temperatures directly damage unhealthy cells because they can’t survive as easily with the heat.

Other Things to Consider

While fever and night sweats can indicate a serious underlying condition, they don’t always. Other conditions that may cause fever or night sweats include the cold or flu, overexposure to sun or heat, and dehydration. Some anti-cancer medications like those in chemotherapy or treatments that alter hormones may also cause these reactions.

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Why Might Mesothelioma Patients Get Fever and Nightsweats?

Fever and night sweats in mesothelioma patients are typically caused by the illness or anti-cancer treatments. In other instances, the fever could be the product of a different condition altogether.

Fevers caused by the disease generally happen when mesothelioma tumors grow and spread in the body. Most of the time, however, tumors have to be quite advanced for the immune system to notice and react to them. Stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma is usually when the person might get a fever and residual night sweats, but they may get a fever during the earlier stages too. Once the tumors are large enough to raise the immune system’s defenses, the body temperature will rise to try and fight them off.

Some mesothelioma treatments can lead to reduced white blood cell counts. This is a condition called neutropenia and means that the patient is much more susceptible to infection. When a fever is caused by infection from neutropenia, it’s called a neutropenic fever. Oncologists suggest that between 5 to 25 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy will get a neutropenic fever.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Sometimes fever or night sweats are an indicator of something serious happening in the body, yet other times, it will pass quickly from a less severe illness or reaction. Neutropenic fever is a condition to be aware of because it means the patient has an infection that their immune system is too weak to fight. This complication from treatment is serious and must be addressed as soon as possible because infections spread quickly and can do a lot of damage to an already weak body. Other fevers to be concerned about are when the temperature rises over 103 degrees Fahrenheit or if the condition has lasted over three days. Additionally, see a doctor if fever is accompanied by symptoms like throat swelling, vomiting, headache, chest pain, or rash. These variables do differ based on the patient’s overall health, stage of illness, and treatments. Based on that information, the oncologist will give you specifics on what warning signs to look for and when to come in.

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