Suggest treatment for low fever and persistent headaches

Posted on Thu, 30 Mar 2017 in Infections
Question: I am male, 68, and I think i have the flu. Not sure. I have had a fever of 99.4 to 103.1 (currently 100.3) for two days; it seems to go up and down. I do not have cough or respiratory or nasal issues at all. Just headache behind the eyes and brief chills and fever the first morning.

But what is debilitating is a sudden sharp pain, first in my upper left back, yesterday on my left side, and now in my mid back (left side). Since it moves, I do not see this as a muscle spasm, and suspect a viral infection trying to move and change and outrun my defenses. I had this once years ago, but it was pretty mild and was gone in couple days.

But I can barely move. Took me 2 hours to get out of bed. Every time I move wrong it's like a knife sticking me, and I have to breathe harder when I move, which makes it hurt a lot. I am taking lots of fast short breaths to avoid that when I have to move, but that doesn't really work. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the bathroom or the kitchen.

No appetite. Urine is yellow, but I am taking a lot of B and C vitamins. I am comfortable at rest, but moving from my chair is a real ordeal.

I know pain, but I have never had debilitating pain like this. It's good that no one can hear me screaming and swearing. What should I do? I can't even move to go to a doctor. I stopped aspirin, because it might be working against my defenses by lowering the fever. My assumption is to not use aspirin, and let the fever run its course.

I am using a heating pad, but since this is likely not a muscle spasm, I am not sure if that might be unwise.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 8 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:

I doubt that this is influenza (flu) as that is a respiratory illness, so in addition to a fever, it causes a cough (and usually other symptoms like a really bad cold).

While flu can cause generalized myalgias (muscle pains), these are usually worst in the thighs and low back, are more of an aching than a scream-worthy pain.

However, you clearly have something going on given your fever (sometimes high) and severe back pain. Given that you are having high fevers at times, headache, and back pain, I very much think you should go in to the ER. I would not wait. Go now.

In the ER they should at minimum get a complete blood count with differential, and some imaging studies. Possibly blood and urine cultures too depending on the physical exam. Don't let them pass it off as flu or a muscle strain. Also, make sure you are seen by an emergency physician and not a PA or NP.

I would appreciate follow up if you are willing, and can also answer further questions after you have been evaluated.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 14 minutes later
The problem here is that I can barely leave my chair, let alone go down a flight of stairs and drive a car. Should I take the Hydrocodone and then try to go? Because i can hardly move.

What about the other questions? Aspirin? Heating pad?

The headache is mild. I have zero pain until I move wrong or have to breathe harder. It only hurts if I inhale too deeply or react to the mild (original) pain by tensing up.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 10 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
The thing I am concerned about is some form of meningitis (headache, fever, back pain).

If the hydrocodone is expired, don't use it - especially if it is combined with acetaminophen. Old acetaminophen can do a lot of harm.

Heating pad won't hurt anything unless it delays you getting diagnosed. Whether it will help adequately I can't say as I can't tell what is going on yet.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) would be fine. Eat something first if you can, before aspirin or ibuprofen. None of these will lower your immunological defenses.

If you can't move, an EMS/ambulance crew can get you to the hospital.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Answered by
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3133 Questions


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