Why being sick causes a fever?


You have inevitably had the unpleasant feeling of a sore throat before. As soon as you touch your forehead, you realize you have a fever. But have you ever wondered what a fever is exactly, why having a sore throat gives you one, and why they are so worrisome? How does it actually go away?


Well in order to really be able to understand what a fever is, you need to know that it all starts in your brain. The hypothalamus is located right in the center of your brain. It’s like your body’s thermostat. Your hypothalamus is aware is what your body temperature should be and sends messages in your body in order to maintain that. Most people have an average body temperature of 98.6°F (37°C). Some people’s normal temperature is slightly higher and some slightly lower. It is normal for the body’s temperature to change throughout the day, however, when germs come in, it changes drastically.

When germs come in it causes you to feel sick. Germs usually come into the body through bacteria or viruses.  The germs in your body can sometimes make some chemicals flow into your blood. The hypothalamus is aware of this and heightens the body’s temperature. For example your normal 98.6°F (37°C),  temperature could rise to 102°F (38.9°C).

The hypothalamus rises to a higher temperature in order to fight the germs and make your body less of a comfortable place for them to live. Fever is a signal that you are in fact sick, and without a fever is it harder to tell if someone has an infection.


Once the hypothalamus creates of new body temperature for you, the body starts to heat up. When the fever begins, the body becomes warmer and you may shiver unconsciously in order to create more create. You might feel very cold although the environment around you may not be cold at all. Once your body reaches the new temperature from the hypothalamus, you will no longer feel cold anymore and your temperature will be in a good place.

When fighting a fever, it is important to note that they are not a severe problem. The cause of the fever must be dealt with and your temperature will go down. However, when it comes to newborns or very young children, a fever can be more dangerous and they need to see a doctor right away. Sometimes medicine is suggested for a fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which block the chemicals that allow the hypothalamus to raise its temperature.  With a fever, it is also important to drink a lot of fluids and stay hydrated.