Getting Hot: The Purpose Fevers

No one wants to be sick. There never seems to really be a good time to take a break from our daily responsibilities. Often, the first sign of an illness is a fever. What follows in the coming days usually consists of rushing off to the doctor and taking various medications. Many of us have been conditioned to go into all-out war when it comes to a fever. We get out cold packs and fever reducing medications. What we often forget is that our bodies are equipped to deal with illness. In most cases, a fever works to help your body fight the illness.


There is a term called “fever phobia” that originated in the year 1980. Barton Schmitt, a pediatrician, noticed that parents often panicked when their child acquired a fever. Parents, obviously, want their children to be comfortable. This phobia, however, had gotten out of control. It still continues today. Statistics show that 91 percent of parents associate a fever with a dangerous outcome. A whopping 89 percent administered fever reducing medication before the fever even reached 102 degrees. It is important to educate parents and adult patients about the purpose of a fever. Many people view the fever as an illness all on its own, and do not understand its purpose.


A fever is a pretty efficient method that your body uses to help you fight off a virus or bacteria. Low fevers are not going to harm you in any way. Your body heats up to kill the invading illness. When you take medication to rid yourself of the fever, you could potentially prolong the ailment. Many microbes cannot reproduce at higher temperatures. A regular body temperature, however, supports these invaders perfectly. The immune system also goes into high gear once the fever begins. A fever can initiate the production infection fighting white blood cells.


Your body has and internal mechanism that usually cuts off a fever at around 105 to 106 degrees. Damage is not caused until a fever of 108 degrees is present. If this is the case, something is terribly wrong. Things like heat strokes and issues with the central nervous system can accomplish this issue. The mechanism to cut off the fever starts in the brain, hence the reason a central nervous system disorder could be the cause of an excessive fever. Some young children have fever relate seizures called “febrile seizures”. These are usually outgrown by the age of six. These are usually milder than seizures caused by epilepsy and other disorders. Harmful effects from febrile seizures are very uncommon.

Fevers can be an uncomfortable part of an illness. In our race to gain comfort or avoid fear, we often inhibit our bodies from doing what it was designed to do. Your body has the perfect setup for fighting disease. Your immune system launches an attack on invaders in many different ways. A fever is one of these defense mechanisms. It takes a very high fever to cause harm, and people are usually under strict medical care for special circumstances when this happens.

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