Hyperthermia - what is it, causes, symptoms, types, danger to humans and first aid

Fever is associated with many diseases. However, not everyone is familiar with the concept of hyperthermia - what it is and how to distinguish a high fever of an infectious etiology from a malignant one. Pathology is a malfunction of the thermoregulatory mechanisms in the human body. Depending on the causes of the condition, the symptoms and treatment methods differ in each case.

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What is hyperthermia

From the Latin language, the term Hyperthermia is translated as excessive heat. Hyperthermia syndrome in a child or an adult develops for various reasons. It is the accumulation of excess heat in the human body and an increase in body temperature. Such a state is caused by various external factors, the consequence of which is the difficulty of heat transfer or an increase in the supply of heat from the outside. In the international classification of diseases, this pathology has a code (ICD) M-10.

The disease is a protective response of the body to negative external stimuli. With the maximum tension of the mechanisms that regulate body temperature, the condition begins to progress. Indicators can reach 41 - 42 degrees, which is dangerous for human health and life. The condition is accompanied by a malfunction of metabolic processes, blood circulation, dehydration. As a result, vital organs do not receive oxygen and nutrients. The patient may develop seizures.


Artificial hyperthermia is used in therapy for oncology. It is the injection of a hot drug into the focus of the disease. With local hyperthermia, they also act on the tumor for the purpose of heating, but with the help of energy sources. The procedures are performed to kill cancer cells and to improve the organ's responsiveness to chemotherapy.


The pathology that caused the fever manifests itself in patients with severe symptoms. If the disease progresses, the following signs of thermoregulation disorders can be noticed:

  • increased sweating;
  • tachycardia;
  • rapid breathing;
  • lethargy, tearfulness - when a child is ill;
  • drowsiness or hyperexcitability - in adults;
  • seizures;
  • loss of consciousness.


Failure of heat transfer mechanisms occurs for various reasons. Starting treatment, it is worth determining the physiological and pathological signs of the disease. It is important to distinguish high fever caused by increased activity from a symptom of a disease. Especially when it comes to a child. Misdiagnosis leads to unnecessary therapy.

In a healthy person, the causes of fever can be the following factors:

  • overheating of the body;
  • overeating;
  • intense physical activity;
  • stress.

The main link in the pathogenesis of heat strokes is overheating. In addition, it can occur if a person is not dressed for the weather, is in a stuffy room for a long time, or drinks little water. When the body overheats, hyperthermia of the skin often develops. This disorder is especially common in newborn babies with inappropriate care.

Physical activity also provokes short-term hyperthermia. Vigorous gardening or sports activities lead to muscle warming and affect body temperature. Fatty foods have a similar effect. Fever appears sharply due to stress, but it normalizes along with the emotional state of a person. In all cases described, therapy is not carried out.

Pathological causes of fever (hyperthermia) are presented below:

  • Infectious infection of the bacterial or fungal type, helminthiasis, inflammatory diseases.
  • Injuries, but more often the temperature rises with infectious complications.
  • Poisoning, ingestion of toxins of exogenous or endogenous origin into the bloodstream.
  • Malignant tumors (histiocytosis, leukemia, lymphomas).
  • Disorder of the immune system (collagenosis, fever during treatment).
  • Vascular lesions. Intense fever often accompanies strokes and heart attacks.
  • Testicular torsion (in boys or men). Against the background of this disease, local inguinal hyperthermia develops.
  • Metabolic disorders (thyrotoxicosis, porphyria, hypertriglyceridemia).

Types of hyperthermia

This disorder appears for various reasons, so doctors distinguish several types of pathology:

  1. Red hyperthermia. This species is conventionally called the safest for humans. At the same time, the blood circulation process is not disturbed, the vessels of the skin and internal organs expand evenly, which leads to an increase in heat production. At the same time, the patient has red and hot skin, and he himself feels a strong fever. This condition occurs to prevent overheating of vital organs. If normal cooling does not function, then serious complications, disruption of the body's systems, and loss of consciousness may develop.
  2. Pale hyperthermia. It is very dangerous for humans, since it provides for the centralization of blood circulation. Peripheral vessels spasm, and the process of heat transfer is partially or completely absent. Symptoms of this pathology provoke edema of the brain and lungs, convulsions, loss of consciousness. The patient is cold, the skin is white, and there is no perspiration.
  3. Neurogenic. Such a violation develops in malignant or benign brain tumors, serious head injuries, local hemorrhages, aneurysms.
  4. Endogenous. This variant of pathology often accompanies intoxication and is an accumulation of heat in the body with the inability of its full elimination.
  5. Exogenous hyperthermia. This form of the disease appears against the background of hot weather or heatstroke. Thermoregulation processes are not disturbed, therefore pathology belongs to physical varieties. The ailment manifests itself as headache, redness, nausea.

Malignant hyperthermia

This condition is rare, but dangerous to human health and life. As a rule, the propensity to malignant hyperthermia is transmitted to offspring from parents in an autosomal recessive manner. Pathology develops only during inhalation anesthesia and can lead to the death of the patient if timely assistance is not provided. The reasons for the progression of the disease are as follows:

  • intense physical activity in a hot climate;
  • alcohol abuse;
  • long-term use of antipsychotics.

The following diseases can contribute to the appearance of malignant hyperthermia:

  • congenital form of myotonia;
  • muscular dystrophy;
  • enzyme deficiency;
  • myotonic myopathy.

Hyperthermia of unknown origin

Persistent or jumping hyperthermia, appearing for unknown reasons, refers to disorders of unknown origin. At the same time, body temperature can exceed 38 degrees for several weeks in a row. In almost half of all cases of the disease, the causes are inflammatory processes and diseases (tuberculosis, endocarditis, osteomyelitis).

Another provoking factor may be a hidden abscess. 10-20% of cases of this type of hyperthermia are associated with the appearance of cancerous tumors. Connective tissue pathologies (lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, polyarthritis) cause such a disorder in 15% of cases. Of the more rare causes of hyperthermia of unknown origin, one can single out allergy to medicines, pulmonary embolism, and metabolic disorders in the body.

Danger to the body

It is important to start treatment of hyperthermia early in order to avoid serious consequences. When hyperthermia occurs, together with a violation of normal cooling, it must be borne in mind that the body is able to withstand heating up to 44-44.5 degrees. Pathology is especially dangerous for people with diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The intense fever in these patients can be fatal.


Given the wide variety of hyperthermia symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose the disorder and identify its causes. For this, a whole range of measures is used. The tests are aimed at detecting inflammation and infection. The main measures for diagnosing the condition are presented below:

  • examination of the patient;
  • collection of complaints;
  • general urine and blood tests;
  • chest x-ray (electrocardiography or echocardiography);
  • search for pathological (infectious, bacteriological, serological, pyoinflammatory) changes in the body.


The procedure for normalizing body temperature does not provide for treatment of the disease that provoked the condition. If the pathology is caused by acute infections, doctors do not recommend starting to actively fight it, so as not to leave the body without a natural defense mechanism. All methods of therapy must be chosen taking into account the etiology of the disease and the patient's condition.

The main measures for extreme heat are as follows:

  • refusal of wrapping;
  • drinking plenty of fluids;
  • correction of the ambient temperature (ventilation of the room, normalization of the humidity level, etc.);
  • taking antipyretics.

If the ailment is the result of prolonged exposure to the sun, it is recommended to take the patient out into the air, preferably in the shade. Physical activity is excluded. The patient must be given plenty of fluids. You can apply a cold compress to large arteries and veins to help relieve the condition. If the patient has vomiting, breathing problems, loss of consciousness, then an ambulance should be called.

First aid for hyperthermia

If a patient has a sharp increase in body temperature, then before starting any measures, it is important to find out the causes of the condition. Hyperthermia requires an urgent decrease in indicators. However, first aid for pathologies of pale, red, toxic types differs due to the different pathogenesis of disorders. Below are detailed instructions for providing first aid to patients with this ailment.

With the red type of pathology, the following measures are taken:

  1. The patient is disclosed.
  2. Ventilate the room.
  3. Provides a large amount of liquid.
  4. Apply cold compresses or ice packs to the body (over the projection of large veins and arteries).
  5. Do enemas with water not hotter than 20 degrees.
  6. Inject intravenous solutions for cooling.
  7. Make a bath with cool water up to 32 degrees.
  8. Give nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

For pale hyperthermia:

  1. Give the patient non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  2. To eliminate vasospasm, the drug No-shpa is injected intramuscularly.
  3. Rub the patient's skin with an alcohol-containing solution. Heating pads are applied to the lower extremities.
  4. After the transition of the pale form to red, measures are taken for another type of ailment.

In case of a toxic form, the following measures are taken:

  1. Call the patient for resuscitation.
  2. Provides venous access.
  3. Provide venous infusion of glucose, saline, if possible.
  4. Antispasmodics and antipyretics are injected intramuscularly.
  5. If other measures do not provide the desired effect, droperidol is given intravenously.

Physical cooling

There are 2 methods of cooling the body at elevated temperatures. Indicators are monitored every 20-30 minutes. The physical method of cooling with ice is carried out according to the following instructions:

  1. Apply an ice pack to the head and in the area of ​​large arteries and veins at a distance of 2 cm. Place a film between the ice and the body.
  2. Fix such an ice pack for 20-30 minutes
  3. As the ice floes melt, drain the water from the bubble and add pieces of ice.

Alcohol cooling is carried out as follows:

  1. Prepare alcohol 70 degrees, cold water, cotton pads.
  2. Soak cotton wool in alcohol, process: temples, armpits, carotid artery, ulnar and inguinal folds.
  3. Repeat rubbing with a fresh swab every 10-15 minutes.

Antipyretic drugs

If the patient's body temperature rises above 38.5 degrees, antipyretics are allowed. As a rule, they drink drugs such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Tsefekon D, Revalgin. Adults can be given Acetylsalicylic acid, and in childhood this remedy is not prescribed because of the danger of complications in the liver. You cannot alternate between different antipyretics. The interval between doses of the drug should be at least 4 hours.

The rules for the treatment of hyperthermia with antipyretic drugs are as follows:

  1. Paracetamol and drugs based on it (Cefekon D) are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, provide elimination of fever for a period of up to 4 hours. Newborns are given drugs in the form of a syrup with an interval of at least 8 hours. Daily dose: up to 60 per 1 kg of body weight.
  2. Ibuprofen and its analogs give a quick effect, but have more contraindications. They are prescribed for inflammation and pain, accompanied by intense fever and fever. The daily dose is not more than 40 mg of the drug per 1 kg of body weight.
  3. Revalgin and other drugs based on metamizole sodium are prescribed for cramps and painful sensations accompanied by high fever. Medicines in this group have a lot of contraindications and side effects. Daily dose: up to 4 ml.

Consequences and complications

The following consequences and complications typical of a high fever can threaten the patient's life:

  • swelling of the brain;
  • ​​
  • paralysis of the thermoregulatory center;
  • acute renal failure (ARF);
  • paralysis of the respiratory center;
  • heart failure;
  • paralysis of the vasomotor center;
  • progressive intoxication with acute renal failure;
  • seizures;
  • coma;
  • damage to functional elements of the nervous system against the background of overheating;
  • lethal outcome.


To prevent the development of pathology, it is necessary to observe preventive measures:

  • adhere to the rules of work in hot shops;
  • maintain good hygiene;
  • avoid exhaustion;
  • do not overload the body during training;
  • avoid stressful situations;
  • choose clothes made from natural fabrics;
  • Wear hats in hot weather.


Attention! The information presented in the article is for informational purposes only. The materials of the article do not call for self-treatment. Only a qualified doctor can diagnose and give recommendations for treatment, based on the individual characteristics of a particular patient.