Fever (unknown origin)



The cause of this fever is not known. In some people, the cause may never be known. Finding a cause may be delayed if there is:

  • A common illness that does not have the usual symptoms
  • An infection that is often hard to diagnose
  • An illness with symptoms that only appear later
  • An illness that may not show up on tests until later, called a delayed positive test
  • A genetic condition that causes fever (rare)

Risk Factors

The risk of an illness is often based on the cause. There are no risk factors for FUO since the cause is not known.



The fever may be steady or come and go. A person may also have chills, sweating, and other symptoms. They can vary based on the cause.


The doctor may ask questions to look for possible causes. A physical exam will be done. Other questions may be asked to look for possible causes. These may include:

  • Have you traveled?
  • Have you been hospitalized?
  • Is your immune system damaged?
  • What medicine are you taking?
  • Have you been near anyone who has been ill?
  • Have you ever been around someone with tuberculosis?

Tests to look for cause may include:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound



Medicine may be used to lower fevers that are very high or cause other problems.

Treatment may be changed once a cause is found.


It is hard to prevent FUO since the cause is not known.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.