A normal temperature is 98.6°F, so they say. This dogmatic fact persisted for 150 years, ever since a single physician derived this fact from compulsively prodding thousands of patients with primitive thermometers. He was close (the average temperature is actually 98.2). But it is variation in temperature, both normal and pathologic, that is more interesting.
Fever, as it is understood today, can result from external ‘pyrogens’, like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bacteria and/or from the effect of intrinsic molecules like Prostaglandin E (PGE), a pyrogenic cytokine produced by the immune system (amongst others, like interleukins and interferons). In any case, fever is one of a number of physiologic alterations that occur during the ‘acute phase response’ to illness.
The historical understanding of fever was less complicated…
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