Migraine is a complex neurological condition that can involve various symptoms beyond just severe headache pain. One less common symptom some people report experiencing during migraine attacks is a mild fever or elevated temperature. But can migraines really directly cause fevers?
Keep reading as we analyze the relationship between migraines and fevers, what may trigger both, and key points for identifying the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Do Migraines Increase The Risk Of Low-Grade Fever?
A migraine is more than just a bad headache—it’s considered a chronic neurological disease marked by moderate to severe head pain and sensory disruptions. Migraine afflicts about 1 in 7 Americans each year, particularly women.
In addition to the trademark throbbing head pain, migraines can cause nausea, vomiting, aura, light and sound sensitivity, and dizziness. But fever is not a classic migraine feature.
A mild fever means a body temperature above the normal 98.6°F (37°C). Fevers occur when the hypothalamus shifts the body’s set point higher in response to pathogens or inflammation.
While migraines themselves don’t directly cause fevers, researchers have suggested they may rarely trigger inflammatory cascades that slightly boost temperature. Infection, medication side effects, and coexisting conditions like fibromyalgia may also contribute to fevers accompanying migraines.
Distinguishing between primary migraine symptoms and fever requires a close look at timing, duration, possible triggers, and accompanying signs. Understanding the overlap can ensure prompt, appropriate treatment when both migraines and elevated temperatures occur.
Can Migraines Themselves Raise Your Temperature?
Doctors originally thought fevers only occurred with migraine complications like meningitis. But newer evidence suggests that in rare cases, migraines may inherently generate a low-grade fever:
- One study described 16 patients whose migraine attacks consistently included fevers between 100-102°F.
- Researchers theorized inflammation related to migraine activity could raise temperatures slightly.
- However, experts emphasize fever is still an unusual symptom of a classic migraine episode.
More study is required to determine if and how migraines biologically produce fevers in certain individuals. In general, a persistent low fever during migraine is unlikely to exceed 102°F if headache is the only symptom.
Infection As A Cause Of Migraine-Related Fevers
Sometimes a fever accompanied by migraine symptoms has an infectious origin:
- Migraine attacks may be triggered by infections that independently cause fever like the flu, sinusitis, meningitis, or COVID-19.
- In these cases, acute infection leads to fever and triggers migraine, but the two conditions aren’t directly related.
- Antibiotics, antivirals, and treating the underlying infection will typically resolve both fever and migraine.
Look for other signs of infection like a sore throat, cough, or sinus pressure if you develop a higher fever with a migraine. Seek prompt medical care to diagnose and manage any infection. A fever above 103°F is not usually attributable to migraine alone.
Medication Effects On Temperature With Migraine
Certain medications used to treat acute migraine episodes can cause side effects like low-grade fever in some patients:
– Triptans like sumatriptan may raise body temperature modestly through interaction with serotonin receptors.
– Ergot alkaloid derivatives can also cause vasoconstriction that leads to mild fever on rare occasions.
– NSAIDs do not typically elevate temperature directly but may mask fever from infection.
These medication fevers tend to be minor and resolve as the drugs are metabolized and excreted by the body within several hours to days. Check with your doctor if you experience an unusually high fever while taking migraine medications.
Coexisting Conditions Associated With Migraines And Fevers
Some chronic health disorders that commonly co-occur with migraine disease may also involve fevers:
Fibromyalgia – A condition involving widespread muscle pain and tenderness that can trigger migraine. Low-grade fevers are a possible fibromyalgia symptom.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – Marked by extreme fatigue, headache, and fever. CFS and migraine share many overlapping traits.
Lupus – This autoimmune disease can trigger immunologic headaches and fevers. Migraines strike up to 70% of lupus patients.
For complex conditions like these that are bi-directionally associated with migraine, fevers likely relate more to the comorbid illness than migraine activity directly.
Tips For Managing A Fever With Migraine
If you develop a fever coinciding with a migraine attack, try these self-care tips for relief:
➜ Rest in a cool, dark room and hydrate with fluids.
➜ Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce both fever and head pain.
➜ Apply a cool compress to the head and neck.
➜ Avoid vigorous exercise which may worsen headache and fever.
➜ Use migraine abortive medication prescribed by your doctor.
➜ Seek prompt medical attention with a fever over 102°F, stiff neck, or confusion.
Notify your doctor if you experience recurrent fevers with migraines that lack a clear infection source. Treating any associated conditions and identifying potential triggers is key to resolving fever and reducing migraine attacks long-term.
When To Seek Emergency Fever and Headache Care?
While most migraine-related fevers are low-grade and temporary, seek emergency care if you develop:
🔴 Stiff neck, light sensitivity, and confusion – Potential meningitis warning signs
🔴 Fever over 103°F
🔴 Severe sudden headache unlike previous migraines
🔴 Symptoms that don’t improve with normal migraine treatment
🔴 Lack of appetite, dizziness, or fainting
🔴 Recent head injury or trauma
Prompt medical care for evaluation of meningitis, encephalitis, or other serious causes is crucial when concerning fever and headache symptoms arise. Don’t hesitate to be seen if you have any worries.
Frequently Asked Questions
In rare cases, migraines may spur inflammatory processes that slightly boost body temperature by 1-2 degrees. Migraine medications or coexisting conditions like fibromyalgia may also play a role. But infection is the most common source of substantial fevers accompanying migraine.
Fevers are not considered a classic migraine symptom. Most migraines do not cause fever. However researchers suggest migraines may very uncommonly trigger a low-grade temperature elevation around 100-102°F in some
Seek prompt medical attention if your fever measures over 102-103°F, if headache pain is different than your usual migraines, if you have neck stiffness or confusion, or if symptoms do not improve with normal migraine treatment. A high fever with severe headache may indicate a serious condition requiring emergency care.
It’s common for headaches and fevers to occur together since many illnesses that produce fever also trigger headache pain as a secondary symptom. But in most cases, there is not a direct biological link between headache and elevated body temperature beyond their shared trigger, like infection.
Yes, some people experience “silent” migraines involving all the usual migraine symptoms except head pain. But by definition, a fever cannot be classified as a migraine unless a headache is also present. If you have a fever without a headache, it is likely due to infection rather than migraine.
In summary, true migraines do not directly cause significant fevers, but low-grade elevated temperatures around 100-102°F may occur in rare cases as an atypical migraine feature. Much more commonly, coexisting infection simultaneously triggers a fever along with migraine headache.
Pay close attention to your specific symptoms and communicate with your doctor. Treating any underlying infection, managing chronic health conditions, and identifying potential triggers are the best ways to address recurring fevers and disruptive migraine attacks. While migraines and fevers may coexist, addressing them as distinct phenomena is key to relieving your discomfort.