For most of us, fever means being sick. This concept is very simple. But fever means more than just being sick.
150 or 200 years ago, big epidemics such as Spanish influenza, yellow fever, diphtheria, etc. were accompanied by a high fever, and there were many victims. Many of these diseases disappeared, but the fear of fever remains. Nowadays, serious diseases don’t necessarily show symptoms until it’s too late. So how does fever, despite sometimes being dangerous to certain organs, ultimately help the body heal? And how are fever and the immune system connected?
What Is a Fever?
A fever is a temporary increase in your body’s internal temperature, typically when you’ve contracted a virus. A fever is your body’s way of signaling to you that something is wrong and is the first indication you’ve contracted an infectious disease. Unlike other symptoms of infection like chills or a sore throat, it’s not to be taken lightly—it can actually trigger a seizure (most common in young children) and can even result in death.
Why Does the Body Get a Fever?
To understand the relation between the immune system and body temperature, we need to understand why the body gets a fever.
The short answer is that it’s a thermal therapeutic process for fighting infection. Fever signals for your immune system to begin producing antibodies and specialized cells by producing heat. As such, fever indicates that your body’s immune system is doing its job.
So how do the immune system and body temperature correlate? When a fever surpasses 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a patient’s life is in danger. Similarly, a very low temperature is just as dangerous, and even more dangerous over time. If you have a body temperature of 96.8 and below (95), your body is no longer able to produce the necessary heat. Some people might not notice that they’re sick until it’s too late. In reality, their immune system is too weak to respond, which means that they won’t be able to fight bacterias or viruses when infection hits.
What Research Has Been Done on Fevers?
During the last century, doctors performed studies to show that patients who had a high fever or often had fever either never or rarely had cancer. On the contrary, patients who never had fever were actually more predisposed to cancer.
During the first half of the century, there was experimentation on animals that didn’t get much attention. During these experiments, scientists injected different viruses in guinea pigs, rabbits, and mice that killed them. But when they did the same experimentations while keeping the animals’ body temperature at 100.4 degrees, nearly all of the animals survived and viruses disappeared within 24 hours, which concluded that the most natural process of protection was the heat (fever).
In the middle of the last century, some cancers were even treated using fever and produced good results. This fever therapy continued to interest some doctors, and more recent studies (for example, one conducted by scientists from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland in The Quarterly Review of Biology) have been performed to understand better the relationship between fever and cancer or fever and the immune system in general.
Recently another study involved isolating immune cells from mice, then putting them in incubators set either to normal body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or a feverish temperature of 104. The immune cells fared better in the feverish temperature and produced certain proteins that helped direct immune cells to the infection. The results of this study are promising for both treating infections as well as allergies and autoimmune disease.
How Does Fever Impact Your Immune System?
The immune system increases resilience each time the body fights an infectious fever, and could even help to be resilient to cancer as we mentioned above.
However, someone who has never had a fever has a higher risk to be a victim of deteriorating diseases like cancer, lysosomal storage disorders, nerve disorders, and others.
Another issue is that we consider problems with a short-term view. Inflammation disorders are developing quickly, whereas we take longer to find deterioration disorders. This is the tragic example of cancer, which often does not provoke any pain or symptoms until it’s too late. If the body’s immune system is too weak, it can’t produce a fever, and as a consequence may create long-term chronic disorders.
Is It Best to Stop a Fever?
While fever is dangerous, it’s only dangerous when it triggers body temperature to rise too high, which remains rare. Kids in particular have an exceptional ability to bounce back quickly. When we interfere in the process with medicine, we immediately notice an improvement, which makes parents and the doctor feel better. But the problem is that the body’s defense system is weakened by this shortcut. Long ago there were mostly bacterial diseases, but nowadays it’s predominated by viruses, which provoke infections.
So what happens when you stop the fever from doing its job in kids, for example, who by nature tend to develop a fever quickly? In this case, the immune system never gets a chance to fight off the virus, and the disease can become chronic since it’s never properly addressed.
In other words, stopping a fever makes the immune system weak because we didn’t let the child’s body protect and defend itself. Fever helps the immune system build up its defense over time so it is properly prepared when a virus comes along. It takes a few years for the body to build its defenses, which is why having a fever is important, especially at a young age.
What Conclusions Can We Draw?
The current fear we have of fevers is not justified, especially for children, who are better able to manage a fever than adults. Stopping a fever from ever happening will tend to push the body to “cold” diseases (such as cancer) and thus towards more chronic diseases.
The first mistake is to stop a fever in its tracks immediately. It’s important to let the body express itself with other signs in order to diagnose the root issue better and offer a more appropriate treatment instead of giving a general antibiotic, which as we all know damages the immune system.
What’s important to recognize is that fever is not just a sign of an illness, but also a defense mechanism. Indeed, many micro-organisms cannot reproduce themselves unless there is a certain temperature. Sometimes, only a few degrees higher body temperature can help slow down or stop the multiplication, which gives the body a chance to employ its defenses.
Ultimately, fever must be supervised as, once again, it can be dangerous if too high (more than 104).
What Are Some Natural Remedies to Manage Fever?
There are a few natural remedies to help control fever. It’s important to always talk to your regular family doctor when you’re sick so they can supervise your illness. Natural remedies can be a support to the doctor’s treatment and help you to control the fever without interrupting the internal fight your body is going through. Here are a few suggestions when you show symptoms of a fever:
- Homeopathic remedies: Homeopathic remedies are interesting in that they don’t stop the fever, but will take into consideration the different aspects of how a fever works.
- Staying hydrated: When you have a fever It’s important not to let yourself get dehydrated. Make sure you’re getting enough fluids, preferably water. Other options include mineralized water, sedative herbal teas (lime blossom, orange blossom, thyme) lightly sweetened with lemon or honey, and mildly salty vegetable broth.
- Taking a bath: A good way to control your body’s temperature is by taking a warm bath. The temperature of the water should be lower than the temperature of your body. You can also add some essential oils such as chamomile, ginger, juniper, and sassafras (ask a professional aromatherapist for a custom and appropriate blend).
- Diet and nutrition: In the symptomatic treatment of a fever, a homeopathic treatment is a good option. However, nutrition and specific diet are also important. You should avoid too much protein (meat, egg, dairy) for at least 48 hours, especially for kids, who tend to have high fevers.
- Adjusting the thermostat: It’s also highly recommended not to keep rooms overheated or to use too many blankets or clothes, especially those made with synthetic fabrics.
- Staying cool: Cool down with fresh towels or even light washing.
Why Not to Fear Fever and the Immune System
The body is an amazing machine with little warriors inside all of us. When this machine is functioning properly, these warriors are released at the right time and protect us, but we have to give them a chance to do so. In the end, we shouldn't be afraid of a fever as long as it stays below a certain temperature. Your body is doing what it’s supposed to, and in some ways, it decreases the chances of getting sick again later. When we think about it, the old-fashioned way that our grandparents used to do certain things is actually most likely the best way, especially in regards to a fever.
Let’s think twice before giving medicine to our kids, as they are building the foundation of their immune system that will last with them through their adult life. Again, the immune system is the key to staying healthy throughout your life, so it’s important to take care of it. Very often the simplest things can help make it stronger such as the right nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, etc.
Check out more about how to build a stronger immune system with our blogs on the best food for the immune system, the right supplements, and much more.
Stop a Fever in Its Tracks with Teramune
No one likes it when their busy life of work and fun is interrupted by a fever. That’s why there’s Teramune immune system support. Wondering how to use this and other Teramune products? Just shake and add 20 drops to your 4oz beverage of choice three times a day until your symptoms improve. With Teramune, you don’t have to worry about a fever derailing your plans. Give your immune system the boost it needs today.
Faculté Libre de Médecines Naturelles Et d’Ethnomédecine