Catching a Cold – The Role of Fever

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Rainy and snowy weather with freezing temperatures are nothing new in January and February.  But despite all kinds of precautions to keep colds away, flu viruses tend to find their way through the immune system. When the head begins aching and the forehead is glowing, it’s clear you caught a cold. When you have fever, the body fights viruses. But how exactly does fever arise and what does that mean for us?

What happens in body when you have fever?

If the thermometer displays numbers between 37.5° and 38°C, the body temperature is considered to be high. Fever, in the proper meaning, starts at 38° C. Such an increase of the body temperature signalises that the immune system is actively fighting against pathogens; as the fever weakens them and hinders them from further reproduction. The body’s cells then destroy the weakened pathogens, and the temperature slowly returns to the normal value of 37°C for adults and 37.5°C for infants and small children. Therefore, fever is a sign of the body’s active defence mechanisms, and can actually be regarded as a good sign.

What do I need to consider?

If you have high temperature, you don’t necessarily need to try to reduce it by medication or leg compresses. As a natural defence reaction, the body fights cold viruses with fever. But if the temperature stays high for a longer period of time, it’s necessary to check with a doctor. People with a well-functioning immune system usually overcome colds within a few days. A real flu, however, can take up to two weeks; and temperature can rise above 39°C. In this case, a doctor’s appointment is inevitable. When children have a high temperature, the doctor will already need to be consulted once the measurement reaches 37.7°C.

Importance of measuring fever

First and foremost, fever is a warning signal that tells us that we might have caught a cold. Therefore, it’s important to measure your temperature if you think something could be wrong. That also helps deciding if you should go to a doctor. Thus, thermometers should be standard items in every household. Modern digital thermometers ensure speed, reliability and ease of use.

(Image: © Dan Race -