Fever, Night Sweats, and Weight Loss

Peter W. Marks, MD

Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Copyright of the American Society of Hematology, 2012. ISSN: 1931-6860.



A 26-year-old woman comes in to the clinic because she has been having fevers accompanied by drenching night sweats almost every day over the past month, during which time she has been losing weight. She says that until these episodes started, she had never been to the doctor for anything other than routine check-ups and gynecologic exams.

What further information should you request regarding this patient’s history?

How high have your fevers been on a daily basis?
Are the fevers accompanied by shaking chills?
How many pounds or kilograms have you lost over the past month?
Are you taking any medications?
Do you smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs?
What type of work do you do?
Are any family members or close friends ill?
Where have you travelled over the past year?

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