eli5: Why are fevers cyclical?


Sometimes when fighting off a virus, bacteria, injury, etc., the body fluctuates between elevated temperature (fever) and normal temperature. This causes a cycle of chills, sweats, chills, sweats,… Why does the body not maintain an elevated temperature until the “problem” is resolved.

In: 1

Fevers are not necessarily cyclical in nature, but certain types of fever can exhibit cyclical patterns.

One example of a cyclical fever is seen in malaria, which is caused by the Plasmodium parasite and transmitted through mosquito bites. Malaria fevers are characterized by a pattern of recurring fever episodes that can occur every 24, 48, or 72 hours, depending on the type of malaria infection. These episodes of fever are often accompanied by chills, sweating, and other symptoms.

The cyclical pattern of fever in malaria is due to the life cycle of the Plasmodium parasite. The parasite infects and destroys red blood cells in the body, which releases toxins that can cause fever and other symptoms. As the parasite multiplies and grows, it periodically releases new groups of parasites that infect additional red blood cells, causing a new episode of fever.

It’s important to note that not all fevers exhibit cyclical patterns, and the duration and pattern of a fever can vary depending on the underlying cause. Fevers can be caused by a wide range of factors, including infections, inflammation, and other medical conditions, and the duration and severity of the fever can vary depending on the underlying cause and individual factors.