Risk factors and common complications of fever
Who is most at risk?
Those with chronic conditions are generally most at risk of fever, particularly low-grade fever. Conditions can include:
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Intermediate and high-grade fevers are at risk for health complications if not properly treated. A high fever that occurs suddenly or for an extended period of time can be dangerous or life-threatening. In extreme circumstances a severe fever can result in brain damage, coma or death.
When body temperature increases too high, for a long period of time, the hypothalamus effectively ‘works harder to rid the body of the cause’. This overheats the body. For an infant, this is especially dangerous as little ones do not yet have a hypothalamus which adequately regulates their body temperature (this develops later during childhood, into adulthood). A high fever for infants can become uncontrollable very quickly and cause serious complications, such as brain damage.
If the fever is as a result of a medical condition, fever can also be life-threatening in severe circumstances. A person with a weakened immune system due to illness, such as pneumonia, is at risk for complications if fever isn’t adequately controlled.
Severe fever can cause serious damage to the body’s tissues and organs if not diagnosed and treated timeously.