Why does fever come and go?

Ah, fever. The dreaded feeling of being simultaneously too hot and too cold, shivering under five layers of covers while sweating profusely. It’s never a good time when you feel your body temperature spike, but what exactly is happening during a fever? And why does it seem to come and go like an uninvited houseguest?

If you’re looking for answers (which, let’s be honest, if you’ve clicked on this article then you probably are), then look no further – we’ll cover everything from the science behind fevers to some fun facts about how different cultures have traditionally treated them.

What is a Fever?

Let’s start with the basics: what is a fever? Essentially, it’s when your body temperature goes above its normal range of 97-99 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1-37.2 degrees Celsius). A mild fever typically ranges from around 100-101 degrees F (37.8-38.3 C), while anything higher than that is considered more severe.

Fun fact: Did you know that your “normal” body temperature can actually vary slightly depending on factors like age and gender? For example, women tend to run slightly cooler than men thanks to differences in hormone levels.

So why does your body sometimes decide to rev up the ol’ internal thermostat? Well…

Why Do We Get Fevers?

There are actually multiple reasons why someone might get a fever! Here are just a few:

Infections

The most common cause of fevers is infections caused by viruses or bacteria. Your immune system detects these invaders and sends out white blood cells as part of the defense mechanism; in turn, those white blood cells release certain chemicals that increase your body temperature as they work their magic fighting off germs.

This is also why illnesses like COVID-19 often result in fevers – it’s simply your body’s way of trying to fight the infection off.

Inflammatory disorders

Certain autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory conditions can also cause fevers. Essentially, anything that leads to a chronic state of inflammation in the body can result in an elevated temperature.

Medications

Some medications (such as antibiotics) can cause mild fevers as a side effect. This is usually nothing to worry about, but if you have concerns then definitely talk to your doctor about it.

But Why Does It Come and Go?

Now we get to the real question: why does fever seem so unpredictable? One day you’re sweating like crazy and taking cold showers every hour, only for it to disappear just as suddenly a few days later.

The answer is actually simpler than you might think! Your immune system – specifically, those trusty white blood cells we mentioned earlier – fluctuates throughout the day depending on what’s going on with your body. During certain times (like at night), they may be more active and release more chemicals that lead to an increased temperature; during other times (like when you’re resting), they may slow down their activity which results in your fever reducing or disappearing altogether.

Fun fact: Have you ever heard someone say they “sweat out” a fever? While not entirely accurate from a scientific perspective, there is some truth behind this old wives’ tale – sweating can help cool the skin down when temperatures are high!

Treating Fevers

So what should you do if you find yourself burning up thanks to a pesky virus or illness? Here are some possible strategies:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids helps keep your body functioning properly even when it’s under stress.
  • Rest up. Your body needs energy in order to fight off infections effectively! Make sure you’re getting enough sleep/rest while sick.
  • Reduce exposure. If possible, avoid exposing others to your germs while you’re contagious.
  • Take medication if needed. If your fever is causing discomfort, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help bring it down.

It’s worth noting here that fevers themselves aren’t necessarily harmful (unless they get very high – above 103 degrees F/39.4 C), and actually play an important role in the body’s immune response. So don’t stress too much if you find yourself with a mild fever!

Final Thoughts

Overall, fevers may be annoying but they serve an important purpose when our bodies are trying to fight off infections or other nasties. And while there isn’t any magic trick to make them go away immediately, taking care of yourself and letting your immune system do its job will usually see them disappear within a few days.

So next time you’re feeling hot-and-cold all at once, just remember: it’s all a part of being human!

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