What is a drug-induced fever and drug-induced hyperthermia?

Fever vs Hyperthemia Caused by Drugs

A number of drugs and substances can raise the body temperature and this is known as drug-induced fever or drug-induced hyperthermia. Hyperthermia differs from a fever in that with hyperthermia, the body’s thermoregulatory mechanism is affected so the body cannot dissipate heat and ‘cool down’ as is necessary to maintain the body temperature within a normal rage. With a fever, the body’s temperature set-point which is maintained by the thermoregulatory center in the hypothalamus is affected and this set-point is essentially raised. The body has to therefore take the necessary measures to maintain a body temperature at this increased level.

Drugs and other substances may act in a variety of ways to increase the body temperature by :

  1. increasing the body’s temperature set-point,
  2. impairing the body’s thermoregulation mechanism,
  3. causing allergic reactions and inflammation,
  4. idiosyncratic drug reactions.

Pharmaceutical Drugs

The drugs listed below are the most likely to result in a raised body temperature but this may not occur in every patient who uses it. Other causes of a fever or hyperthermia should first be excluded and the discontinuation of any medicine should be supervised by a medical doctor. Individual reactions as a result of rare drug allergies may also result in a raised body temperature.

Antibiotics

These drugs are used to treat bacterial infections. There are many different classes of antibiotics but beta-lactam  and sulfonamide antibiotics are more likely to result in a raised body temperature.

Examples

  • Isoniazid

Anti-arrhythmia Drugs

These are drugs that are used to treat an abnormal rhythm of heart muscle contractions.

Examples

  • Procainamide
  • Quinidine

Anti-epileptic Drugs

These drugs are used to prevent seizures in epilepsy and are also known as an anticonvulsants.

Examples

  • Phenytoin (diphenylhydantoin)
  • Carbamazepine – may also be used for trigeminal neuralgia and bipolar disorder.

Anti-hypertensive Drugs

These drugs are used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).

Examples

  • Alpha-methyldopa

Anti-fungal Drugs

These drugs are used to treat fungal infections.

Examples

  • Amphotericin B

Ephedrine

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine may be found in a number of prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and some herbal and nutritional supplements.

Uses

  • Nasal decongestants for hay fever, allergies and colds.
  • Bronchodilators for asthma and bronchitis.
  • Energy/metabolism boosters (thermogenic) for weight loss, fatigue and increased physical and mental stamina.
  • Appetite suppressants for weight loss.

Sulfa Drugs

These are drugs that contain sulfonamide and it is present in a number of drugs including certain antibiotics. anticonvulsants, diuretics and dermatological conditions.

Interferons

These drugs are increase immune activity and may be used for the treatment of certain types of cancer, infections like hepatitis and HPV (human papilloma virus) infections, and multiple sclerosis.

Narcotics/Illicit Drugs

An increase in body temperature may depend on the quantity of the drug used.

  • Amphetamines
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis (marijuana)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Related Articles

  1. What is a Fever (Pyrexia)? Normal and High Body Temperature
  2. Sudden Fever – Causes of Acute Fever in Adults

Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on September 13, 2010