Child With High Fever & Hyperactivity

Father taking temperature of sick son
Fever and hyperactivity in a child may be indicitaive of serious viral or bacterial infection. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A high-grade fever in children typically is symptomatic of a bacterial or viral infection. These conditions also can be accompanied by the onset of hyperactivity in the form of physical tics, seizures and mood disorders. Some common causative agents of high fever and hyperactivity include streptococcus and staphlococcus bacteria and several viral agents. Hyperactivity and fever can be a sign of a life-threatening condition; therefore, consult a physician immediately upon the onset of these symptoms in your child.

Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease primarily found in children that affects the heart, joints and brain following a streptococcus infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. The symptoms of rheumatic fever also include hyperactivity in a condition known as Sydenham's chorea, an involuntary twitching movement of the limbs. An article in the May 2008 issue of “Current Treatment Options in Neurology” stated that the disease often is difficult to diagnose because there is no standard laboratory marker or test. The authors advise the prescription of valporic acid or other dopamine receptor-blocking drugs as a first-line treatment after doctors carefully review the patient’s clinical history and laboratory evaluations rule out alternative causes.

La Crosse Virus Encephalitis

The symptoms of La Crosse virus encephalitis include high fever, seizures, hyperactivity and cognitive and behavioral disorders. This disease is the most common mosquito-borne viral infection in American children, according to an article appearing in the February 2008 issue of the “Journal of Child Neurology.” The authors described the clinical manifestations of the disease, including the presence of discharges from sores on the skin found in 77 percent of patients, which are called periodic lateralizing epileptiform discharges, or PLEDS. The authors found that children with PLEDS have a grimmer two- and 10-year neurological outlook that those without, including longer stays in an intensive care unit and a higher rate of cerebral herniation, which is the swelling of the brain.

Group A Streptococcal Infections

A tic disorder, or motoric hyperactivity, along with a high fever is symptomatic of group A streptococcal infections found in tonsillopharyngitis. This inflammatory disease of the tonsils and pharynx normally occurs in children from 5 to 8 years of age. A study published in the April 2002 issue of the “Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine” found that children treated with antibiotics were effectively cleared of the bacteria and symptoms including fever and hyperactivity promptly disappeared.

Fever and Autism

An article appearing in the December 2007 issue of “Pediatrics” investigated the effects of fever on hyperactivity and other manifestations of autism in children. The researcher recruited 30 autistic children ages 2 to 18 and monitored their symptoms during an active infection causing a high-grade fever and up to seven days after the infection cleared. The study found that hyperactivity decreased significantly during the course of the infections but noted that these changes were not necessarily due to general effects of the disease. The authors concluded that more research should be completed to identify the neurobiological pathways activated by bacterial infections in autistic children.

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