Rheumatoid Arthritis fevers and overcoming illness. My experience with low grade fevers and a surpressed immune system.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Fevers and Overcoming Illness

Rheumatoid arthritis fevers and overcoming illness is one of those enigmas of RA. Doctors tell us we are not sick but we feel otherwise. Getting sick is no fun for anyone. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has added a new dimension to even catching the simplest of colds and changed the way I get sick, how long I endure the illness and how I feel during the ailment. While I don’t intend this to be whiny, I do try to share my experience living with rheumatoid arthritis who may deal with RA or possibly increase awareness for those who care for someone with RA in the hopes that it will help someone.


Rheumatoid Arthritis fevers and overcoming illness. My experience with low grade fevers and a surpressed immune system.

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Overcoming Illness with RA 

RA is a disease of the immune system in which the patient’s faulty immune system attacks the patient’s joints. The reason that the biologic drugs (such as the Remicade infusions I take) work so well is because it suppresses the overactive immune system which provides the patient relief from the joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The consequence is that patients can catch viruses easily and it takes a longer time to recover.

As the cold and flu season is upon us, it is virtually impossible for me to emerge unscathed. Early December and I am already down with my first sickness. Besides the obvious cold symptoms of hacking cough, runny nose, sore throat and chest congestion, RA adds total body joint pain, stiffness and fatigue to my symptoms. I cannot get out of bed when I am sick and sleep all day. For someone who is always on the go and willingly takes vacation days from work just to do housework, it takes a lot to keep me down. RA has got my number.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Low Grade Fevers 


To make the disease more frustrating is the subject of “fevers” and whether or not I am “sick.” We all learn that a normal body temperature is 98.6 and anything over 100.5 (about 2 degrees higher) is considered a fever that keeps you home from work or school.

I have never been one to be like everybody else, so I suppose the same applies to my normal body temperature. When I was trying for months to get pregnant, I used a basal body thermometer* to track my morning temperature. I learned that my normal body temperature is in the 97 range (usually 97.2). Only when I am ovulating, would my temperature hit 98 degrees. Now that my child-bearing days are behind me and I feel sick, I use a temporal lobe thermometer* to quickly and easily take my temperature. My temperature may only get to 99 degrees as it has been this week, but I feel absolutely awful.

The rheumatologist and non-RA sufferers look at me like I am nuts thinking I am not sick since my fever is not “high enough”. How come my body temp has to be 3 degrees higher than normal to be taken seriously that I am sick? Sources show that these low-grade fevers are also symptoms of RA and the body’s response to inflammation. It certainly explains why when I have a low-grade fever, I am in so much pain and stiffness that I cannot get out of bed. Thankfully, despite her not believing me, my doctor gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and I am already feeling better, confirming I do know my body better than she does.

Perhaps it is difficult for my rheumatologist to empathize with my condition. I believe I know my body and its limits better than anyone else, despite what medical textbooks might say. I wish she wouldn’t dismiss how I feel. If it was her daughter looking back at her, could she be so cold? Would she tell her she does not know what she is talking about? 

RA is one of those “invisible illnesses” that you may not think someone has at first glance. I hope by sharing my experience that I encourage others to empathize rather than judge, you never know what someone else is enduring. Look closer or listen harder before rushing to judgment.

I am not a victim, I do not “play sick” to get sympathy. I am tough, I endure RA and I am determined to not let RA beat me. I hardly ever go against doctor’s orders or question their diagnoses but I am glad in this case I fought for my health and asked for the antibiotic.

I hope you take the steps you need to understand your body and these rheumatoid arthritis fevers are just one piece of the puzzle. Keep track of your core temperature to be able to notice changes. Be an informed patient and you will have more proof to show your doctor so that you can come to a better treatment for your symptoms. Take control of your health and start feeling better! 


More Rheumatoid Arthritis Resources


My Must Have Tools for Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis Illness and Pain

If you need help with understanding RA, I hope you will ask me anything. I hope to share my story with you as I hope you share yours with me, what helps you cope, or other resources to add to my list. It’s nice to know we are in this journey together. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at tanya{at}momssmallvictories{dot}com if you have a question. 

Do you get low-grade fevers? How does it make you feel? Do you ever feel like your doctor doesn’t believe you or downplays how you feel? How do you deal with it? I love to get comments and would love to hear from you!



  1. I was so excited to find this post. My fevers drive me nuts!! It’s my worst symptom. I have Psoriatic Arthritis. There’s no test to prove that, so the docs still say “maybe Psoriatic arthritis”, but it so is. I have found no other explanation for the joint pains, fevers, heart palpitations, and fatigue. PsA is rarer than RA and mine is milder than RA, but every once in a while it flares up bad and knocks me down. I still have my walking cane on hand for the next time it gets out of control. What have you found to be the most effective treatment?

  2. Hi friends
    Read all your experiences and can empathise with you. My share of experience is also similar. I ha RA for last 12 years and by the time it got detected my knee was already gone and unicompartment knee surgery was done. That was a major jolt of my life when I was just 30yrs with a small daughter named Ttannya. Since then things changed.
    I was treated for RA and I was fine for 7-8 years forgetting RA ever existed.
    But I was suddenly attacked by it last July and it has turned my life down completely. Hate to be on bed with severe pain all the time in ankle and knee, stiffness, fever, cold and restlessnes. Can’t go out with my daughter and family for any occasion making her upset as she wants her mom to be with her like other children. Cannot accompany my husband like other women. Hate to be dependant on helpers and other family members for smallest of support.
    My doctor is very good, understands my pain but still it is me who has to bear it. My lovely dresses and footwear are lying unused for last 9 – 10 months. Have been a corporate trainer and have lived an active professional life but now I don’t recognise myself l!!!!

    1. I was tired of taking painkillers and fever medicines. Was also treated with steroids for sometime but that’s not a long-term solutio. It brings other complications.
      Hated when I couldn’t pack lunch for my kid or husband for days.
      But now have decided to help myself at least to feel bettre. No matter what I do not miss my breathing exercises and yoga inspite of pain and fever. Have lost 9kgs in 3. 5 months and feel flexible. Medicines play its role but we too cannot give up like a defeated warrior.

    2. I’m so sorry Madhuri to hear you are in so much pain. I can empathize with you too. I know it’s hard to be dependent on others for the simplest of things. I hope you are finding ways to cope with your pain and staying strong. I’m glad that yoga and breathing exercises are helping you. I agree with you that medicines can only cover your physical pain. It’s up to us to try to stay positive so that RA doesn’t take away our happiness. It’s a constant and sometimes unpredictable battle. I never know when a flare is coming until it’s just upon me. Feel free to come back and talk to us about how you’re feeling, you are in my thoughts.

  3. It can be a constant battle with doctors to believe us. i had to interview doctors like they were going to be my employee…finding a doctor should not be that hard. i don’t tend to get fevers but even slightly more post nasal drip will throw me off my game. its hard to remember that what we once saw as small things with an auto immune illness there are no small things because of how much harder your body already works on a daily basis.

  4. I totally understand you and your low grade fevers! I have the same problem – if I get into the 99’s I’m pretty much dying. I had meningitis when I was a teen and my fever never rose…

  5. I’m eighteen, almost nineteen now and I just got RA about three months ago. Its probably the worst pain I have ever dealt with. I have had to change my diet to “little dairy” because I can feel how my pain increases in my joints when I eat the stuff. Thankfully I have managed to deal with it…barely but I still have a horrid time sleeping because I wake up feeling like someone has punched my arms and legs about a million times. I cant even get out of the bathtub unless my bf helps me. The interesting thing is, I’ve never been a junk food consumer. I’ve always been real picky about what I eat. Unfortunately for me..I have a few family members with RA, Arthritis, MS, and Lupus :[

  6. Hi,
    My mother has been a RA patient for 12 years. Her problem is getting aggravated now. Everyday fevers, acidity, bloating, stiffness in joints, severe pain, weakness, palpitations, low bp plus the side effects that comes with the strong medicines especially steroids…..My heart sinks seeing her struggling and fighting everyday. The fevers have started to freak me out. :'(

    1. I am so sorry to hear your mom’s condition is aggravated now. Has she been on steroids for awhile? Prednisone would usually remedy bad pain flares for me but they do wreak havoc on stomach and cause me to have incredible munchies. Then the weight gain hurts my joints more.

      I’ve always heard that fevers are our body’s way of fighting off infection. Sounds like your mom’s body is working overdrive to combat her RA and overactive immune system. Are they low fevers (like under 100) or higher than 100/101? I hope steroids and meds kick in and provide her relief. I am sure it’s difficult to watch her struggle and fight and not be able to help her. Gentle hugs to you and your mom. Wishing you both better days ahead. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your situation.

    2. I wake up with fevers sometimes from RA. Sometimes I’ll get that pounding in my head like i’m getting a fever. I’m very weak when I get up in the mornings. Especially when it snows outside. I’ve had to ask my bf to get the blanket off of me because i can barely lift my arms and legs. So I do share half of what your mom goes through :[ I hope she gets better <3

  7. Thanks for visiting my blog. Let me know how the latke recipe you choose comes out! I have a good friend and a brother with RA. So good of you to share so much information here. I need to learn more so I can be more helpful to my SIL and just generally more supportive.

    My brother’s hip has deteriorated to the point where he is having it replaced in February. It’s going to be a bit of an ordeal but once through the rehab, I know he’ll be glad he’s done it. His son is still young and active and he wants to be able to keep up with him!

    Hope you are doing well — so great that you use knowledge and a good attitude to fight the battle. Keep on doing it.

    1. Thanks Beth for returning the visit. I am sorry to hear you know people with RA but I am glad my website gives you a small glimpse of what it’s like (for me, anyway). I wish your brother luck and many well wishes during his hip replacement and recovery. I hope it fixes his aches and pains so he can keep up with his son! I can empathize wanting to keep up with your kids, boys especially are so active – that seems like an understatement for my 3 boys! Sometimes it makes me sad to think that they don’t know what it’s like to have a mom without RA, they don’t know how I was before it reared it’s ugly head. I have to stay positive for their sake and hopefully teach them to be sympathetic and empathetic to others, you never know what someone else is dealing with. My oldest son for one rubs the scars on my hands, tries to straighten them out and tells me he wish I didnt have RA. Me too, buddy, but I know I am lucky that medicine keeps it under control and I am thankful just to be able to walk. Small victories, Beth, I have to celebrate the small victories. I hope you will visit again soon and I will let you know when I try out those latkes!

  8. In the past couple of months, I almost always have a temperature of 99.3 or 99.4, and you’re right, when your fever is up, it knocks you down. I hate that you have a doctor that doesn’t listen. It took me a long time to find a doctor that really listens to me and not totally rely on the tests. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

    1. Thanks Crystal. I appreciate your support. It is tough when she relies on the tests so much. Its like she gets offended too if I ask what the results were. She told me once when I asked for what my liver levels were that they were fine, she’d have let me know if something was wrong. It’s not that I doubt her, but I am paying for the blood test, so why can’t I get a copy of the results? Granted, I am not an expert but I would like to be informed and on top of my own health information.

      I hope you haven’t been feeling bad for 3-4 months straight with a low grade fever! Mine came and went and came back again. It takes me 1 whole week to recover usually, let’s hope today is the last day of this crud. Wishing you good days ahead and hope you will come back to visit!

  9. You have my empathy. My “normal” temp range is in the 97-range as well and it’s hard to convince anyone that you’re really sick when your thermometer reads “normal”. At the point it gets over a hundred, I can’t get out of bed, much less go to the doctor. I hope you feel better soon. Take it as easy as you can. Sending warm healing thoughts your way.

    1. Thanks Carla for the empathy and support. I figured I was not the only one facing this predicament. I think the antibiotic took away the fever so at least I am able to get out of bed, however, I still have a lingering cough, congestion and runny nose. My hubby was sick for two nights with something similar last week but it always takes me at least a week to recover. I am thankful grandparents took our kids this weekend so I could get extra rest and Superhubby spoiled me rotten. Time for some hot tea and a good book to finish off the weekend.

  10. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so rotten, but I thank you for your post. I have a very dear friend who suffers from RA, but is very guarded about talking about it. In short, she doesn’t, so it makes it very hard for me to understand exactly the pain she’s in, or what she’s going through as an RA patient. This shed some light on the subject for me! I hope that you’re up and running very soon, and that you enjoy a beautiful December from here on out! Stopping in from SITS! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Christine. I am sorry your friend has RA. I can understand her being guarded with talking about it, sometimes I just don’t want my loved ones to worry. I downplay how I feel to them until it gets bad enough when I need their help and support. Or i dont quite tell them everything I read that really scares me. As a result, I turned to online journaling through this blog. It’s truly where I can document my feelings, hopefully mostly good, but there are a few times when I just have to let it out. I hope you and your friend will visit again soon. If you have any questions that I might be able to help you with, please feel free to send me a message, tanya@momssmallvictories.com. I know every patient is different but I am willing to share how RA impacts me, physically and emotionally. Have a great day! Off to visit your site…brrr-ownies? No need to say more!

  11. My Mom also has RA and has had it for years. I very much feel for you and understand how unbearable the pain must be at times. – I am glad that you are feeling better. Take care ~ Bea/ stopping by from SITS Sharefest

    1. Hi Bea,

      Thanks for commenting, I am sorry your mom had RA. It’s more prevalent of a disease than many people realize. I am very thankful for strong medicine that helps me function, 90% of the time. I guess I get spoiled with how much it helps me. It’s that 10% of the time, when RA takes over and knocks me out. It’s that rude awakening that I get every time I get sick. I appreciate your kind words and off to visit your site.

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