Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is fever?


A true fever is an increase in core temperature caused by elevation of the hypothalamic setpoint. This causes the body to attempt to generate heat (e.g., by shivering) to elevate the body’s core temperature. In contrast, hyperthermia results in an elevated temperature without altering the set-point, so the body attempts to cool itseff to achieve a normal temperature. Some examples of hyperthemia include heatstroke, hyperthyroidism, bums, and malignant hyperthermia.

Reference:  Crocetti M, Moghbeli N, Serwint I: Fever phobia revisited: Have parental misconceptions about fever changed in 20 years? Pediatrics 107:1241-1246, 2001.

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