It’s flu season – before you herd yourself to the nearest flu shot clinic, let’s think for a minute about fevers and how they can benefit your immune system’s defense.
A new study adds more reasons to why our bodies employ fevers as a defense against sickness.Researchers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute found that a higher body temperature can help our immune systems to work better and harder against infected cells.
This new work also suggests that the immune system might be temporarily enhanced functionally when our temperatures rise with fever although this information should only prompt people to reconsider how they treat mild fevers, and not fevers that are dangerously high. Parents should still take care to lower fevers in children, particularly if the fever is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, since high fever can lead to seizures. If someone has a persistent fever of 104, it’s a sign of infection, and it”s not just some viral thing you are going to get over.”
The secret is in a kind of immune cell, or lymphocyte, called a CD8+ cytotoxic T-cell. This kind of lymphocyte is able to destroy cells infected with viruses and even tumor cells, researchers said. Researchers found that a higher body temperature (like one achieved in a fever) raises the number of these CD8+ cytotoxic T-cells, which means a greater body response against infection.
This is certainly not the first research to suggest that fevers ramp up our body’s immune responses. But it is another that helps to show us not to always get so worried about a little fever.