A fever happens when there is an invading organism that has entered the human body. The immune system is triggered to increase the body’s temperature so that the invader cannot thrive or survive in the new environment. This means there are certain advantages to letting a fever run its course, but there are certain disadvantages that must be considered as well.
Should fevers be left untreated unless they reach dangerous levels? Here is a look at the pros and cons of a fever.
The Pros of a Fever
1. Most fevers are not actually dangerous.
Only severely high fevers that are prolonged in nature will cause damage to the human body. Those who are critically ill and newborns, however, do need to have a fever immediately looked at. For most people, the fever is simply one treatment option that is available to overcome the illness. By identifying and then treating the underlying concern, the fever naturally goes away.
2. They are easy to treat.
If fevers are particularly bothersome, they can often be treated with some simple solutions. Even soaking in a cold-water bathtub can be enough to help cause a fever to begin losing its grip. Over the counter medications, such as NSAIDS, can also provide some temporary relief to a fever. Although treatment may prolong the illness, people often feel better and compromise relief for a few extra days of feeling under the weather.
3. It stimulates the immune system.
Fevers are a natural way to fight off an infection because invading organisms need a specific temperature to thrive. The engagement of the fever is like a pull starter on a lawn mower for the immune system. Pull the starter enough and the engine starts. If a fever lasts long enough, the immune system kicks into overdrive. This creates a natural healing response that will allow someone to hopefully defeat the illness and get right back on their feet.
4. A fever helps to form mucus.
Our mucus membranes do more than just provide a physical barrier against disease development. They can also help the immune system kill off an active infection. Fevers help to create more mucus, which in turn lessens the infectious effects of the invading microorganisms. If the microorganisms can’t be eliminated right away, the mucus can “trap” the invader within its confines and use its effects as a physical barrier to stop the organism from creating more health problems.
The Cons of a Fever
1. It creates dehydration.
When a fever is present, the warmer temperatures of the body cause an increase in fluid consumption. This makes it a lot easier for someone to become dehydrated when suffering from a fever. If this condition is ongoing or the fever is particularly high, then further damage may occur because of the lack of fluids.
2. The body loses vitamins and minerals.
When a fever is present, the human body reacts by making certain vitamins and mineral become unavailable for consumption. This is because the invading organisms often need the same electrolytes that the human body does for survival. A prolonged fever makes it difficult for the body because prolonged deficiencies in these areas can also cause a number of other health problems.
3. It may cause seizures.
In children especially, prolonged fevers can create seizures that may continue on even after the fever resolves itself. In some instances, these seizures may even contribute to future health problems that may require a lifetime of care. This is why younger children are often seen by the doctor for more fevers than older children.
4. It can shut down vital organs.
The human body is a lot like a submarine when it senses danger. If a submarine is underwater and a section becomes flooded, that section can be closed off from the rest of the boat to protect the crew and allow the submarine a chance to surface once again. The human body takes this approach to its organs. Once a fever hits 104 and stays there, the human body can begin shutting down organs to prevent them from being damaged. Shut down the wrong organ or have the fever damage the wrong one and health problems can begin rather quickly.
How Do You Feel About Treating Fevers?
Although fevers are a way to kickstart an immune system and help people feel better, having one certainly makes one feel miserable for a period of several days sometimes. By evaluating all of the pros and cons of a fever, the right treatment decisions can be made so that the best possible outcome may be achieved.