Laptop overheating: Long term effects?

My laptop fan is clearly having troubles these days, as it periodically overheats, but usually only when video is being played of a program like a computer game is played. I have an external fan, but sometimes forget to use it. Do these periodic auto-shut offs damage my computer? I ask because my computer is... show more My laptop fan is clearly having troubles these days, as it periodically overheats, but usually only when video is being played of a program like a computer game is played.

I have an external fan, but sometimes forget to use it. Do these periodic auto-shut offs damage my computer?

I ask because my computer is currently functioning slower, even having trouble running ITunes. Still need to check for viruses....and I already upgraded my RAM.

Thanks!
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