Most of us are familiar with what it’s like to have a fever. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t ever had one.
Spiking a fever, after all, is part of your body’s natural defence against many things including viral and bacterial infections, and it’s expensive for your body to raise its temperature like this.
Your normal body temperature is 37 C, the same as a hot summer day, and your body is constantly thermoregulating to stay at this constant temperature.
When you get a fever, however, your body increases its body temperature on purpose, and for every degree of increase, your metabolic rate increases by a whopping 20%.
It takes a lot of energy for your body to raise the temperature. So why does your body spend such enormous resources to increase your temperature? It’s part of a trick your body employs to fight off invaders.
Turn up the Heat
By turning up the heat, your body makes it uncomfortable for invaders like viruses and bacterias since they also like things to be at a constant 37C.
Your body combats these pathogens by turning up its own thermostat and making things even hotter so that these invaders can’t replicate and survive as efficiently.
At the same time, this increase in temperature also kicks your immune system into high gear, making it work more efficiently.
I Thought Fevers Were Bad
A fever is a symptom of something that’s going on. You can treat the symptom, but many medical professionals believe treating the underlying cause is the best approach to health and wellness.
As adults, we often do ourselves a disservice by knocking down a fever. Most of the time, healthy adults that spike a fever from a bacterial or viral infection end up taking longer to recover from their illness than if they had let the fever take its course.
Should I Take Medications to Reduce My Fever?
Obviously your should consult a doctor before making any health or medication decisions, but know that many studies have shown letting a fever take its course can often lead to favorable outcomes in adults when compared with reducing the fever with medications.
By controlling fever you’re going against your body’s natural defence process, a way that the human immune system has been dealing with invaders for much longer than any of us can remember.
Can I Boost My Immune System by Raising My Body Temperature?
Many people believe increasing your body temperature through a sauna or immersion in a hot tub can trick your body into thinking you have an infection and revving up your immune system.
This topic has actually been studied quite a bit, including this 2013 study “Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes” we found un the US National Libray of Medicine
“Finnish sauna sessions promote a response from endocrine glands (Pilch et al., 2007) and stimulate the immune system (Dugué and Leppänen, 1999). It has been documented that hot-cold bathing reduces susceptibility to colds and prevents infections in healthy subjects(Ernst et al., 1990; Dugué et al., 1998)”
If you have pre-existing health conditions, or even if you don’t and just want to make sure you’re making a well-informed decision, ask your doctor or health care professional before choosing to indulge in saunas or hot tubs. In Finland, regular sauna use is right up there with healthy eating and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Got any immune boosting tips for us? Let us know in the comments below.