Delirium is an acute condition that causes a person to become unfocused and confused. Though there can be several causes of delirium, fever is one such cause. A fever can cause the confusion because elevated body temperatures interfere with the metabolic processes of the body. In order for a fever to cause this condition, the body would have to reach a temperature of at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit or more in most cases. Fevers of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or lower are considered moderate to low-grade fevers and typically do not cause delirium.
Like fever, delirium is a symptom of an underlying cause. The condition can also be caused by poison, brain injury, withdraw from certain addictive substances, severe shock, and diseases such as Alzheimer Disease or Huntington’s Disease. Delirium accompanied by high fever could mark infectious disease or any number of conditions of the body. Though these symptoms can help doctors make a diagnosis, they are typically not the only symptoms of a condition or disease.
Frequently with high fevers, confusion may be present as well as seizures. Again, seizures associated with high fevers are considered acute and may or may not be a sign of another problem. Typically, both confusion and seizures associated with excessively high fevers dissipate when the fever breaks. Because of the potential for complications of a high fever, determining when to seek medical attention for fever, especially in children, can be confusing to many people.
As a rule of thumb, if a fever goes higher than 105 degrees Fahrenheit or is accompanied by delirium or seizures, you should seek medical attention. Similarly, if a moderate-grade fever persists for more than three days or does not respond to fever-reducing medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, you should see a doctor. If a high-grade fever is present, but responds to medication and is not accompanied by other symptoms, you should still follow up with a doctor. Consult a doctor for children under the age of two if fever exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit.