First of all, I would like to apologise for the sudden disappearance. I have been busy settling down in another country (Australia) for my masters course. I will try and make it up to you all! Thank you for still reading my blogs!
So, fever, what is it? It is generally something people want to avoid. I mean come on, why do want to fall sick and get bed ridden, feel weak, lose hunger or get chills? We don’t like fever (unless you need a break from school ;D).
Fever is basically a rise in the body temperature. Our normal body temperature is 37°C. A temperature above that is considered to be fever which is generally 38°C. Isn’t it amazing how our body constantly maintains the same temperature throughout our lives and any slight change within it (be it going lower or higher) causes a discomfort. How does it do it though? We have a boss in the brain which is called the hypothalamus. This region of the brain is responsible for crucial functions such as releasing hormones and maintaining the normal body temperature. It keeps a check on the temperature and brings it back to homeostasis by either releasing heat in the form of sweat (if body temperature is higher than normal) or by retaining heat by closing off the skin pores (if its lower than normal). So, fun fact, when it closes off the skin pores in cold weathers, the hair on the skin all stand up due to a tiny muscle (arrector pili) contracting, giving you goosebumps!
Anyway, why do we get fever? It’s funny. Think of this as a battle going on between the immune cells and pathogen that has called a war on our body! The immune cells are all in full form and they know for a fact that their death doesn’t matter, all they have to do is raise the temperature of the body so that the pathogen feels uncomfortable and dies. They do this using substances called Prostaglandins. These are hormone like substances that participate in a wide range of body functions such as the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle, the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, control of blood pressure, and modulation of inflammation. This is a good thing for us isn’t it? We are getting rid of the pathogen! But, our immune cells forget the fact that our own body enzymes would also denature! Imagine the dysfunction of all the functions of prostaglandins. It can really cause serious problems.
A rise in temperature (hyperthermia) will cause dizziness, nausea, thirst, headache, oedema, rash, confusion, weak or rapid pulse and coma as well. This is why the doctors intervene and we physically fight the internal battle. We help our immune cells in the battle by lowering the temperature and providing them some antibiotics (in case of a bacterial infection) to help them destroy the pathogen. In case of a viral infection, all we can do is provide some rest to the body so that the immune system can fight off the viruses on their own. Another fun fact, we usually feel sleepy or tired or not hungry because our liver releases substances called acute phase proteins. These, in simple terms, help to shut off or slower down the other organ systems so that the immune system can focus on doing its job!
So, you decide now! Is fever our friend or our enemy?