From Joseph Mercola, DO
Fever is a sign that your, or your child’s, immune system is working at its best. Virtually all animals — and even fish — naturally develop a fever when they’re fighting a bacterial or viral illness. This response occurs because it improves your body’s ability to get rid of infection.
Fever Benefits Your Body
When an organism invades your body, it triggers the release of pyrogen, a substance that signals your brain’s hypothalamus to raise your body’s temperature. This is done through a number of different mechanisms, including:
- Release of the hormone TRH
- Increasing your metabolic rate
- Restricting blood flow to the skin to minimize heat loss
- Piloerection (raising the small hairs), which suppresses sweating, a cooling mechanism
The fever, in turn, launches a number of beneficial body processes, including immune-protective mechanisms, that either directly or indirectly help ward off the invading bacteria or virus. For instance, temperatures from 104 to 105.8 degrees F (40 to 41 degrees C) reduce the replication rate of poliovirus in cells by 200-fold, while increasing the susceptibility of Gram-negative bacteria to antibody destruction.
“Given the complexity of these immune mechanisms, it is remarkable that fever-range temperatures stimulate almost every step involved in this process, promoting both innate and adaptive immunity,” researchers wrote in Nature Reviews Immunology.