High Fever at 12 Cause Permanent Damage?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am 37 year old female. I have had many issues over the years, emotional, severe headaches, migraines, over heating, confusion, forgetfulness, concentration and so many more! I have had several incidents in life that have caused me to become depressed and have always sought treatment and was usually treated with anti depressants. In addition to the struggle with emotions and depression I have had memory loss, confusion, dizzy spells and my body seems to over heat like crazy. A great comparison to some symptoms would be menopause. Recently I chose to go back to school. I have struggled with remembering every thing important such as exam dates, my student schedule, class times ect. I walked into class two hrs before class time and realized I was not part of the class and then started to wonder if I even knew what day it was. I am in my opinion and many others a kind empathetic and mostly reasonable and fair woman. However I have many moments when I am over come irritability and even anger and my body temperature is burning to the touch. I have known for years there is an issue and have treated it with effexor, the only drug that seems to make the slightest difference. I have recently thought on the fever I had from sun and heat stroke 20 years ago. My fever was 109 and it was feared I would die. I was at a camp and my mother was reached who then said as long as fever goes down to let me stay if I choose to do so. The nurse staffed at this camp had me on bed of ice for 24 hours and I remember all the salt tablets I was made to drink. I do not recall much more other than I was never seen by a doctor and my life was never the same since. I was high honor student and involved in every academic event and scored higher than most in just about everything I did. I was in advanced classes and a special program for the gifted. I struggled and dropped out of school at age of 14. I have had many jobs and my employers were very confident in me and my abilities…this was based on my composure, my ability to deal with the public and always moved up with in as little as a week or two of employment. Always resulting in a very seesaw like pattern of unaccountability and the inability to earn or keep the positions I was always so graciously given and offered from the beginning. Could my issues be in relation to the 109 fever so long ago?

A. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high fevers associated with heat stroke have the potential to cause brain damage. How much or how little brain damage can vary greatly from individual to individual. I cannot give you a definitive answer as to whether your fever caused brain damage but it is a realistic possibility.

I would strongly suggest seeing a physician and exploring this problem in greater detail. This is a problem that should be investigated. You should start by consulting your primary care physician about a possible referral to a neurologist. In preparation for your visit to a physician, you should:

  • have a list of questions ready;
  • document every detail that you can recall about the incident that occurred 20 years ago;
  • document your current symptoms; and
  • describe what you want to improve in your life.

You should have been taken to the hospital at the time of the incident. Your life was at risk. Many people would not have survived such a high temperature but luckily you did. What is also positive is that even though you may have been negatively impacted by the incident, you have been successful in life. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). High Fever at 12 Cause Permanent Damage?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/22/high-fever-at-12-cause-permanent-damage/