High Fever and Hyper…What?

high fever

In one of our earlier blogs, Hospitality Health ER discussed febrile seizures in kids that result from a high fever. Thankfully, those fever-related seizures go away on their own. But, have you heard of something called hyperpyrexia or malignant hyperthermia that can affect both children and adults? Hyperpyrexia is basically when the body reaches a temperature above 106 degrees Fahrenheit. This is actually considered a medical emergency and you should be taken to the emergency room immediately.

When a High Fever Indicates Something Serious

What Causes Hyperpyrexia?

Hyperpyrexia usually means something serious is happening with your body. The most common cause is bleeding in the brain which increases the body’s temperature by way of your hypothalamus. There are other serious causes of hyperpyrexia including sepsis (an infection of your blood stream), an overactive thyroid, withdrawal from medication or drugs, or an excess of serotonin in the brain called serotonin syndrome. In children, Kawasaki syndrome or disease can lead to hyperpyrexia.

How Do I Know if it’s Hyperpyrexia?

There are many symptoms of hyperpyrexia and they vary from person to person. In addition to the high fever, here are some of the common ones to watch for:

  • Tachycardia – an abnormally fast heartbeat while body is at rest
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Small pupils
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased thirst

What Can Happen if Hyperpyrexia is Not Managed?

Prolonged fevers at unsafe levels can always put a person at risk for brain damage or death. But doctors are typically able to manage the fever with proven treatments. However, it’s important to get to the emergency room as soon as possible to allow doctors time to diagnose the root cause and treat the fever. IV treatment and fever-reducing medications, such as dantrolene, may be required to bring the fever down.

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