For centuries now, we have become accustomed to simply taking a dose of medicine when our body temperature rises the slightest bit. After all, from the rise of modern medicine in 1800 to present day, it has become a norm in society, seeming like the right thing to do. However, this may not be the best course of action because fevers actually help fight infections in our bodies.
A fever, scientifically known as pyrexia, is the human body’s response to an illness by increasing body temperature temperature from the normal body temperature (37 degrees Celsius or 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit). According to Clinical Education, in ancient times, a rise in body temperature was often associated with infection. We see that today when a thermometer indicates that our body temperature has risen: we automatically associate it with an illness and try to find a cure that will help us get rid of it. However, some bodily processes require a rise in temperature to activate specific enzyme activity and additional parts of the immune system. This rise in temperature is required to maintain a strong immune system leaving us less prone to illnesses and increase the performance of our cardiovascular system as we age helping our bodies fight against more bacteria in the long run.
According to PBS, humans feel more comfortable at lower body temperatures. This is another reason why we tend to associate high temperatures with an illness. Our body temperatures are regulated by the hypothalamus region of the brain where nervous system activity, hunger, thirst, body temperature, and other bodily functions are regulated. It is here that the brain receives signals to elevate or lower the temperature. During this process, our body also seeks to maintain a temperature close to homeostasis, which is the attempt to maintain a stable temperature, so that the body does not overheat. According to NPR and Professor Larry Kenney, when our bodies do overheat it could be a sign of heatstroke, nausea, or even heat exhaustion.
Instead of taking over-the-counter medication, which can have different types of side effects on your body, it is beneficial to let your body overcome a fever by itself. Fevers are not harmful for your body and in order to achieve eventual positive effects, it is important to embrace the fever.
Find out more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4869589/
Ash, M. (2011, November 29). Fever: It’ll Help You Fight off Infection. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from Clinical Education website: https://www.clinicaleducation.org/news/fever-itll-help-you-fight-off-infection/
How to boost your immune system. (2014, September). Retrieved January 18, 2019, from Harvard Health Publishing website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Hypothalamus: The Body’s Thermostat. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2019, from Ask A Biologist website: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/bird-hypothalamus
Kluger, M. (n.d.). Function of Fever. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from PBS website: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/4/l_104_04.html
Norris, M. (2011, July 21). What Happens When The Body Overheats? Retrieved January 19, 2019, from NPR website: https://www.npr.org/2011/07/21/138586969/what-happens-when-the-body-overheats
Plaza, J. J. G., Hulak, N., Zhumadilov, Z., & Akilzhanova, A. (2016, May 5). Fever as an important resource for infectious diseases research. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from NCBI website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4869589/
Edited by: Karen Yung and Mehek Dedhia