How Can I Prevent Brain Damage from Fever?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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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.


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Post 3

Apparently, my brother had a bad fever when he was young. It wasn't going down and as a last resort, my mother gave him a cold shower which worked. This is actually wrong. Doctors now say to give a warm shower, not a cold one, to reduce fever. But I guess it was good that she did that anyway.

I also saw a very interesting article recently which said that it is possible to prevent brain damage when someone is having a heart attack, by putting an ice pack on their eyes and forehead. Doctors discovered this accidentally when a man had a heart attack and fell into a frozen lake. They got him out, restarted his heart and despite having been without oxygen for about fifteen minutes, he had no brain damage afterwards. I realize that a fever is not the same thing, but it might be worth trying, putting an ice pack on the forehead that is.

Post 2

@SteamLouis-- I wonder if she had meningitis? Meningitis is a common infection in children and it's very dangerous. It causes very high temperatures and brain damage is one of the possible complications.

As you said, early diagnosis and quick treatment is key to preventing complications like brain damage. These sort of illnesses can even occur in adults. But a fever that's not responding to medications and cold compresses should be taken seriously.

Post 1

A friend of mine has a sister who developed brain damage from a high fever when she was a child. I had no idea that fever could cause this until I learned about her. I guess her fever was extremely high. I wonder why they didn't take the child to the hospital when the fever wasn't going down. I think this is what should be done. Most of us are told to take fever reducers when we have a fever. But if they're not working, then it's time to go to the hospital.

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