What Causes Fever in People With Diabetes?

Fever is often a sign of infection somewhere in the body. It is an important immune system function that sometimes serves to kill the invading organism. People with diabetes are prone to several types of infection. It is important for a person with diabetes to seek treatment for infection or a chronic fever of unknown origin, as an acute illness can make diabetes more difficult to manage.

An infection may send a person with diabetes to the doctor.


The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals notes that people with diabetes have an increased risk for urinary tract infections. The severity of this type of infection is often worse in people with diabetes than that found in a person without diabetes. Often, a urinary tract infection affects the bladder, a condition called cystitis. A low-grade fever may develop with cystitis and other urinary tract infections. Treatment typically consists of oral antibiotics. Merck indicates that a person with diabetes may need a longer course of treatment.

Oral Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection that occurs in moist areas of the body, such as the mouth. MedlinePlus, a website maintained by the National Institutes of Health, indicates that a person with diabetes is at increased risk of getting thrush in the mouth because elevated glucose levels in saliva serve as food for the yeast. Oral thrush may cause a low-grade fever, explains the text, "Medical-Surgical Nursing." A prescription anti-fungal mouth rinse or lozenge is often prescribed to treat oral thrush.

Infected Foot Ulcer

Foot problems are a serious concern for people with diabetes. They can easily develop because of a combination of poor circulation and nerve damage that allows a minor problem to become worse. Foot ulcers can easily become infected, characterized by redness, foul-smelling drainage or dead tissue. A fever may be present, but sometimes a diabetic will not have a fever despite infection in a foot ulcer because the poor circulation doesn't promote the body's natural defenses. Treatment for an infected foot ulcer often consists of antibiotics, topical medication and frequent dressing changes. The doctor may have to cut away dead tissue or eventually amputate the foot if treatment is unsuccessful.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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