What Causes A Body Temperature Rise (Fever)?
It is commonly accepted that the normal core body temperature of healthy human being is 98.2ºF (37ºC). This is an empirical study arrived figure and holds good for most cases. The temperature of human body is also found to be dependent on age, time of the day; activity status, etc. and differs slightly from the place of the body part from which the temperature is recorded. Body temperatures are recorded by placing the thermometer under the tongue or inserting it into the rectum or vagina which gives the accurate core body temperatures. Other areas for recording temperatures is under the armpits (skin temperature) but these are not very accurate and are a shade lower than the core body temperature. Temporal nerve temperature or tympanic (inside the ear canal) temperatures are recorded from new age infrared digital thermometers which are non-contact thermometers.
The core body temperature of the body is maintained by the organ called hypothalamus, situated under the brain, which acts as a thermostat. The hypothalamus regulates the body temperature to normal range irrespective of the ambient temperature. Whenever the external temperature is high, it signals the sweat glands under the skin to secrete and help to maintain the body temperature. Similarly, when the body is subjected to the extremely cold environment, it constricts the blood vessels (arteries or veins) and prevent heat flow away from the body. The normal core body temperature is of vital importance for the efficient functioning of major organs like liver, kidney, etc. which may be badly affected by high temperature for prolonged periods.
Whenever the core body temperature rises over 100ºF, usually as a result of infection within the body, it is termed as fever. The rise in core body temperature is indicative of the presence of some unwanted pathogens within the body and the immune system of the body working to fight the unwelcome guests. A fairly large of medical fraternity holds the view that fevers are often helpful to boost up the immune system of the body and fight the invading bacteria or virus naturally. Thus, use of medicines like aspirin which lower the body temperature should be avoided.
Most fevers are believed to be caused by a chemical substance in our blood stream called pyrogens. When these pyrogens reach the hypothalamus and bind with certain receptors, present there, the body temperature rises. One common pyrogen called IL-1 (Inerleuknin-1) is produced by white blood cells into our blood stream. The main function of these white cells is to fight and kill invader bacteria or viruses that enter into our body. Whenever the white cells encounter such microbes, they produce pyrogen IL-1, which signals the hypothalamus to raise the body temperature. It will be pertinent to mention here that many invading bacteria or virus cannot multiply at the elevated temperature and thus it is easier for the body to contain and ward them off from our bodies. Thus, fever may be beneficial at times for our health.
However, it is always recommended to seek medical intervention from the qualified doctor in case of fever beyond 102ºF and consult further course of treatment.