Fever (aka pyrexia) is, technically, body temperature above 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C.). In practice a person is not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C.). Fever is part of the body’s disease-fighting methods. Rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease producing organisms. For that reason, low fevers should normally go untreated, although you may need to see your doctor to be sure if the fever is accompanied by any other significant symptoms. At temperatures 104 degrees F and above, there can be unwanted consequences, particularly for children. These can include delirium and convulsions. A fever of this sort demands immediate treatment and medical attention. Home treatment possibilities include the use of aspirin or, in children, non-aspirin pain-killers such as acetaminophen, cool baths, or sponging to reduce the fever while seeking medical help. Fever may occur with almost any type of infection of illness.
Fever has been used as a tool to treat disease by deliberately raising body temperature. Fever therapy was pioneered by the Austrian neuropsychiatrist Julius Wagner von Jauregg (1857-1940). He inoculated his patients with malaria who had dementia paralytica, the third and final stage of syphilis when it affects the nervous system and brain. The patients developed a high fever; and the fever halted the relentless course of the syphilis. For his discovery Wagner von Jauregg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1927. Induced-fever therapy is rarely, if ever, employed today. However, sometimes a patient with a very high fever from an infection upon recovery from the infection enters into a most improbable remission from an unrelated disease or is even cured of it!