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Most people are not at risk of developing brain damage from fever — common illnesses do not usually cause temperatures high enough to damage the brain. Certain severe illnesses and conditions are more likely to cause this problem. In light of this, the best ways to prevent brain damage from fever may involve taking steps to lower a fever that seems too high, seeking medical attention for a worrisome temperature, and staying alert for the types of illnesses and conditions known to cause organ-damaging temperatures.
While you may feel concerned when a fever rises higher and higher, it is important to keep in mind that suffering brain damage from fever related to an illness is rare. You would have to experience a fever of 106°F (about 41.11°C) or higher to face the risk of brain damage. Though some illnesses do cause high temperatures, most will not cause your body temperature to rise this high. Instead, severe illnesses and conditions such as bacterial meningitis and hyperthermia are more likely to lead to a brain-damaging fever.
Though you are unlikely to develop brain damage from fever in conjunction with a common illness or condition, you may still want to take steps to keep a fever from getting out of control. One way to do this is to take a fever-reducing medication at home to lower your temperature. Usually, acetaminophen or ibuprofen is used for this purpose. You may also help yourself by staying hydrated and wearing light clothing when you are ill. Additionally, taking a cool sponge bath may also help lower your temperature.
If your fever does not respond to at-home treatment and you feel very ill or concerned, you may do well to seek a doctor's advice. He can prescribe medication that will lower your temperature and reduce your risk of brain damage from fever. He may also provide an accurate diagnosis so you can treat the illness rather than the fever, which is actually a symptom.
You can also prevent brain damage from a fever by learning to recognize the illnesses that are more likely to cause serious problems and seeking swift medical attention if you develop symptoms of these conditions. One such condition is bacterial meningitis. This illness is marked by inflammation that affects the covering of the spinal cord and the brain. It is life-threatening and causes such symptoms as nausea and vomiting, confusion, irritability, and high fever. Often, a person with this illness will also develop a stiff neck and a severe headache.
Hyperthermia, which occurs when the body becomes overheated, can cause extremely high temperatures and is associated with the risk of brain damage from fever. Often, this occurs when a person is exposed to extremely high temperatures and does not have enough water. As a result, the body cannot regulate its own temperature. Symptoms of this condition include high body temperature, skin that is hot and dry to the touch, dizziness, confusion, and headache. Low blood pressure, lack of sweat, and visual changes may result as well.