Can an anxiety attack bring on a high fever?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by aeroeng, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    difficult child was angry at us (Mom & Dad) for the last two weeks. On Friday evening he was determined to keep us all awake and kept making noise late at night. I told husband that he needed to do something as difficult child was determined to keep testing us to see how far he could push and would keep us up all night if not confronted. husband said, Ok but that it would get ugly. I said, I knew, but that he would not stop until he got a reaction.

    husband confronted difficult child and it came to head. husband said some things which upset difficult child and difficult child finally started talking and it flowed out like a water fall. All the things that he was angry about and everything that was bothering him. He was very emotional. We reflected back everything he said, to show him we hear it, and then talked about our positions as well. When he was finally exhausted he said, I still hate you and went to bed. husband looked at me and asked if that was good or bad? I said good because he was finally letting it out. Even if he still remained angry he was communicating. husband and I gave him a few minute to settle down and then went to bed ourselves.

    In about 10 minutes difficult child came back into our room, shivering with high anxiety. The house was very warm. difficult child said he was very cold, and could not get warm. He also wanted to snuggle to get warm, but complained that we felt cold. I got a thermometer. difficult child had a fever of 100.7 and rising. We gave him Motrin and rubbed his head and scratched his back to calm him down. He said that he forgave us and promised to be good again. In the morning he seemed healthy again, no fever, no other symptoms. He behaved reasonably well through the week end.

    It seemed strange that the only symptom was the fever and anxiety immediately following the emotional release. He does not normally suffer from anxiety, this was a first. Usually it is just anger that gets him. But could the anxiety have caused the fever?
  2. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Yes, it can - panic attacks are basically the human being's "fight or flight" response, triggered inappropriately. Increased hormone output (espec. adrenaline) causes increased heart rate and rapid breathing. Many times people will get chills, or grow too warm - in a way, panic attacks are somewhat similar to "hot flashes". The body is prepping to run, and the body temperature rises due to all the work the body's doing. You'll see some articles about "stress-induced hyperthermia" out there.

    I've read mice/rat studies that show significant rises in body temp in response to stress, but I can't remember an actual human study. Gonna go have to haul out my textbooks for that one, I think.

    Here's an abstract that says it plain out, in the beginning. :)
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yes. difficult child 3 still gets fever when his anxiety isan issue. We went for years, letting him off school if he had a fever. He would want to go to school but be vomiting. So when Icheckedhis temp and found a fever, I made the call to keep him home. Ofcourse the vomiting and fever wouldresolve but we'd let him stay home. THen after him being well all the rest of the day, next morning - vomiting andfever again. Itwould go on all week, he would be well most of the weekend (except when the subject of school came up) then Monday morning - vomiting and fever again. Or he might get to school and I would get a call to come fetch him, he was vomiting and had a fever.

    He lost over half of an entire school year, spread over the year, because of this. His teacher WOULD NOT let us even suggest anxiety as a possible cause. It was at the end of the school year when a doctor finally said to us, "We've ruled out all other possibilities. Why has severe anxiety not been considered? It is all tat is left."
    WHen I explained about the teacher's insistence (and how she 'knew' about it form her own experience with her daughter, who had food allergy problems) as well as the fever and vomiting, the doctor said that difficult child 3's anxiety was so extreme that it was causing the fever and vomiting directly. He had made himself physically ill, even though it was not deliberate, difficult child 3 wasn't even aware he was doing it to himself. It also didn't help difficult child 3 to have heard his teacher repeatedly insisting that we find what the physical cause was.

    We've observed this since then too, although he is getting better at managing his anxiety.

  4. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    Thanks for the responce! Marg that must be very fustrating! My difficult child has only done it the one time, and that was scarry enough.