Why can your body raise your temperature to deadly heights when having a fever?


Hello everyone!

So as I understand it, your body starts to heat up to slow down the reproduction of bacteria in your body, thus resulting in a fever.

But how come that you can die of a fever? Does the body not know when to stop heating up?

In: 14

Your body *is* being damaged (or is at least running inefficiently) during a fever. The fever temperature is not a “safe” temperature for the body; your body is gambling that the microbe/virus/bacteria will be defeated before the body takes too much damage. Hence, if the illness is too severe, your body will lose the race, so to speak, and you will die before the illness is overcome. However, in many cases, the illness can be defeated before the body suffers too much, allowing the body to come down from the fever and start working on healing the damage.

The body is not designed very cleverly at all. It may look like everything was planned there from the start but in reality it is all held together with ducktape and hope. Some sort of safety stop for your fever for example is not something which have been developed. There may have been some simple mechanisms in place which could have been developed into a working system but more then likely these ended up not letting the body get high enough of a temperature or let the fever get too high anyway and therefore people with those genes died out faster.

So it’s not so much that your body is causing a fever to slow down the reproduction of bacteria, it’s heating up because the immune system works better at a higher than normal body temperature.

The body doesn’t know anything. It reacts to stimuli. If the stimuli that causes a rise in body temperature continues then it’ll continue to do that whether it’s good or bad for you.

The system has evolved because it works better than nothing. It doesn’t mean it evolved because it always works.

This is a topic of active research. There is evidence to show that our body is more capable of managing fever than we give it credit, and “you’ll get brain damage” is a bit overstated. Your body is not trying to kill you, it’s actually remarkably good at saving you and self regulating.
Here is a good jumping off point if you want to jump in further. Not eli5, but not a difficult read. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002962921000045

So, if the body is supposed to increase fever to fight off bacteria- then shouldn’t we let a fever get to 102 or something like that, before taking Tylenol or aspirin ??