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Can Fever Cause Brain Damage?

You got a fever, and the only prescription is more...antipyretics? In this episode we break down what a fever is, why a fever is, as well as when and how to treat a fever. How hot can a fever get? Can it damage your brain? Is there such thing as a low grade fever? Do emergency departments have fancy Tylenol? All this plus hallucinations, seizures, and the most accurate way to take a temperature (hint: it isn't your mouth).

Updated on April 29
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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Most people polled for this podcast said they take their loved ones to the ER for a fever because they are hoping the emergency room doctors could do something to bring down the fever. People are worried that high fever can cause brain damage. But can it? Follow the notes for this episode to find out.

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The textbook definition of a fever is 100.4 Fahrenheit and 38 Celcius. This number is created by sampling a bunch of people who are considered not sick and using their average temperature as a "norm."

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Higher temperatures cause enzymes to work better to fight and infection, while the bacteria and viruses slow down in high temperatures. Through evolution your body learned to raise the temperature in order to help it fight these things.

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If you are worried, by all means you should bring your kid to the ER. There is no harm. Also, doctors can't really tell you not to do it.

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Doctors are not generally concerned with how high the fever is (until a certain point), but rather they look for symptoms of what else is going on with the body. Fever can make you feel a little bad, but by itself it is not going to hurt you. Whatever is causing your body to spike a really high fever is what the doctors want to identify and treat.

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Fever is controlled by hypothalamus in the brain, and it functions kind of like a thermostat. Your brain is not going to self-destruct by overheating. Whatever is causing your body to spike the fever could cause you problems, but it won't be the fever itself.

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Hyperthermia is a medical condition when external factors are causing your body to overheat, and your body is not able to cool itself. Note, it is not to be confused with Hypothermia, which is a condition when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing your body's temperature to become dangerously low.

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