The last is a medical emergency because it approaches the upper limit compatible with human life. If the temperature is taken by another route (mouth, ear, armpit), then the reading needs to be converted to the equivalent core body temperature.
Most of the time, fever types can not be used to find the underlying cause. However, there are specific fever patterns that may occasionally hint the diagnosis:
- Pel-Ebstein fever: A specific kind of fever associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma, being high for one week and low for the next week and so on. However, there is some debate as to whether this pattern truly exists.
- Continuous fever: Temperature remains above normal throughout the day and does not fluctuate more than 1 °C in 24 hours, e.g. lobar pneumonia, typhoid, urinary tract infection, brucellosis, ortyphus. Typhoid fever may show a specific fever pattern, with a slow stepwise increase and a high plateau.
- Intermittent fever: Elevated temperature is present only for some hours of the day and becomes normal for remaining hours, e.g. malaria, kala-azar, pyaemia, or septicemia. In malaria, there may be a fever with a periodicity of 24 hours (quotidian), 48 hours (tertian fever), or 72 hours (quartan fever, indicating Plasmodium malariae). These patterns may be less clear in travelers.
- Remittent fever: Temperature remains above normal throughout the day and fluctuates more than 1 °C in 24 hours, e.g. infective endocarditis.
A neutropenic fever, also called febrile neutropenia, is a fever in the absence of normal immune system function. Because of the lack of infection-fighting neutrophils, a bacterial infection can spread rapidly and this fever is therefore usually considered a medical emergency. This kind of fever is more commonly seen in people receiving immune-suppressing chemotherapy than in apparently healthy people.
Febricula is a mild fever of short duration, of indefinite origin, and without any distinctive pathology.