Periodic Fever Syndrome

Periodic Fever Syndrome

Periodic fever syndrome is a genetic condition.  This condition usually is present in younger children.  There are different types of periodic fever syndrome. In all types of periodic fever syndrome, a person will experience a fever episode that is accompanied by other symptoms.  Symptoms are different for each person, but usually stay the same from episode to episode. The two most common different types of periodic fever syndrome are Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) or Periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and adenitis (PFAPA).  No matter what type of periodic fever syndrome you suffer from there is no cure. The goal is to treat the symptoms and alleviate the discomfort of those during episodes. The fever from this syndrome is not contagious, and it is not caused by a virus or bacteria.

Most periodic fever syndrome types occur during childhood.  Some can start as early as two years old while others may not become present until age ten.  Most types though if you are going to have them will be present before the age of twenty. Your child’s doctor will have to do a lot of different tests to diagnose.  Since symptoms are different between every child it is hard to diagnose this easily. Your doctor will start with a physical exam. Your pediatrician may refer you to a rheumatologist to help with the diagnosis.  After the initial physical exam, your doctor will want to go over your family’s medical history. Some types of periodic fever syndrome are caused by ethnicity, so it is important to be completely open and honest with your doctors.  A blood test may be ordered to test for inflammation in your system, specifically an elevated white blood cell count. A genetic test may be done as well, but this would only be done along with other tests. A genetic test alone would not be enough to diagnose.  

There are a few factors that can cause periodic fever syndrome.  The main factor that seems to be the majority cause of the syndrome is a gene defect.  Another factor is the clinical features of the syndrome, such as having these periodic fever episodes lasting the same length of time each episodes, and presenting with the same symptoms each episode.  Other things that can factor are the parts of the body that are affected by the fever, age of the child when the symptoms first appear and ethnicity. All of these factors will help your doctor determine which type of periodic fever syndrome your child may have.  


FMF – Familial Mediterranean Fever


One of the most common types of periodic fever syndrome is FMF, or familial Mediterranean Fever.  This is a genetic disorder caused by a recessive gene most commonly found in people of Meditterean or Middle Eastern descent.  Most symptoms will be present before the age of twenty, but almost 50% of people with this syndrome will show symptoms before the age of ten.  The fever with this type is not contagious and the fever episodes will last between one and four days. The length of each episode will be the same and the symptoms that are present for each episode will be the same each time as well.  This isn’t curable. Though it is manageable. A child with this type of periodic fever syndrome will be able to live a normal life and have a normal life expectancy. Episodes can be so frequent that they can get in the way of school attendance.  In rare cases when the episodes are so frequent the child may not be able to recover fully in between, which may lead them susceptible to catch a virus or bacterial infection. If left completely untreated though this syndrome can cause organ failure to occur.  So you will want to make sure you see a doctor if you suspect your child has this. </