Monday, May 11, 2009

What is Fever ?


Fever (also known as pyrexia, from the Greek pyretos meaning fire, or a febrile response, from the Latin word febris, meaning fever) is a frequent medical sign that describes an increase in internal body temperature to levels above normal. Fever is most accurately characterized as a temporary elevation in the body's thermoregulatory set-point, usually by about 1–2 °C (1.8-3.6 °F).

Fever is caused by an elevation in the thermoregulatory set-point, causing typical body temperature (generally and problematically considered to be 37 °C ±1 °C, or approximately 99 ±2 °F) to rise, and effector mechanisms are enacted as a result.

A feverish individual has a general feeling of cold despite an increased body temperature, and increases in heart rate, muscle tone and shivering, all of which are caused by the body's attempts to counteract the newly-perceived hypothermia and reach the new thermoregulatory set-point.

Fever differs from hyperthermia in that hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature over the body's thermoregulatory set-point, due to excessive heat production or insufficient thermoregulation, or both.

A fever is considered one of the body's immune mechanisms to attempt a neutralization of a perceived threat inside the body, be it bacterial or viral.

Carl Wunderlich discovered that fever is not a disease, but the body's response to a disease.

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