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How does fever help fight infection?

Fever, a common symptom of infection, can leave you feeling hot, achy and miserable. But it serves a purpose. A higher body temperature accelerates the internal workings of cells. This means disease-fighting cells respond faster, and immune responses increase. Germs, on the other hand, don't reproduce as well at higher temperatures. A very high fever can slow down or kill off the microbes that cause some infectious diseases.

In the age before antibiotics, fever was held in high esteem. As Thomas Sydenham, a 17th-century English physician, opined, "Fever is a mighty engine which nature brings into the world for the conquest of her enemies." Since fever is an ancient coping strategy against disease, scientists suspect it endures because despite its discomfort, it has value.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.