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Latest Edit: General 2013-06-20 (EDT)

Normal oral temperature is 98.6°F or 37°C, plus or minus 1°. Body temperature shows a normal diurnal variation, the lowest point is registered in the early-morning hours, and the highest is reached in the late afternoon.[1]


Causes Infections
See Also Other Conditions, Viral Infections, Gastritis, Otitis media, Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Books Books on Other Conditions
Articles Articles on Other Conditions


Fever is characterized as follows:[2]

  • Fever is an increase in body temperature that occurs when the hypothalamus temporarily elevates the body's thermoregulatory set point.
  • Fevers occur as a way of assisting the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses.
  • Fevers promote an increase in the quantity and motility of circulating white blood cells (immune cells). They also cause an increase in interferon which leads to an increase in antibody production.
  • During a fever, the concentration of Iron and Zinc in the blood is reduced which acts to inhibit bacterial growth.
  • The immune system signals to the hypothalamus to increase the body's thermoregulatory set point by releasing the cytokine interleukin-1. The release of this cytokine occurs when pathogens are being phagocytosed in the body.
Article Facts and Myths About Fevers in Children, NMJ, [1], 2012 February
  • The body aches that often accompany a fever occur because muscle tissue is broken down to free up amino acids that are then used by the immune system for defense, repair, and as an energy source. Interleukin-1 is involved in signalling this process, as well as in decreasing the appetite and the motility of the digestive organs during a fever.
  • High Fevers
Article Fever: Referral required?, IHP, Nov/Dec 2009
  • Fevers are an essential aspect of the body's innate ability to fight infection, yet they can become dangerous if they go too high, especially with young children.
  • 38.9-39.4 degrees Celsius (102-103 Fahrenheit) is an optimal oral temperature range for fighting infections. A high fever is considered any fever over 104 degrees Celsius.
  • Risk of high fevers may include seizures, meningitis or encephalitis.

Related Conditions

Fever is commonly associated with the following conditions:

Article Fever in Children, NDNR, 2011 September

Childhood Fevers

Fevers in children are most commonly due to:

Note: It is important to determine the cause of any fever in children. Fevers of unknown origin can be serious in children.[1]

Acute Fevers

  • meningitis
  • intrabdominal abscess
  • sepsis

Chronic low-grade fevers

Fever due to Medications

  • drugs that cause a fever include penicillins, cephalosporins, antituberculatrs, sulfonamides, macrolides, aminoglycosides, quinidine, methyldopa, procainamide, phenytoin

Note: Elderly individuals often have a diminished or absent febrile response to infections.[1]

Diagnostic Testing

The testing that is commonly done in response to an acute or chronic fever includes:

  • Blood Tests such as CBC with differential, urinalysis, ESR, SMA-22, monospot test, tuberculin test (PPD), antinuclear antibodies. Cultures of blood, urine, pharynx and stools.
  • Other tests include a cardiogram, chest radiograph, computed tomography (CT) scans, sonograms, technetium, gallium, and indium-111 scans.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. A fever is treated by identifying and treating the condition that it is associated with.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

  • 38.9-39.4 degrees Celsius 102-103 Fahrenheit) is an optimal oral temperature range for fighting infections.[2]
  • Body temperature can be raised or decreased via hydrotherapy so as to be shifted to within this range.[2]
  • To decrease a fever, use a tepid bath, or a neutral bath. These are baths that are slightly below body temperature, that is between 27 and 33 degrees C, and 33.8-35.5 degrees C respectively. To make the fever go down faster, rub the body with a sponge or a wash cloth. This is called a friction rub and will cause vasodilation on the surface of the skin, which will further cool the body.[2]
  • To raise a fever, bathe in water that is maintained at slightly above body temperature while drinking hot water or herbal tea. After the bath, wrap the person in a warm blanket.
  • Generally when a person has a fever they should rest, avoid eating (other than broths), and ensure that they are adequately hydrated. During a fever the body's energy is being used to fight the infection. When food is consumed, energy is required for digestion and is thus directed away from fighting the infection.[2]
  • Eating can resume when temperature is below 37.5 degrees Celsius.[2]
  • Ensure that the person with the fever remains well hydrated.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Seller Robert (2000) Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints, fourth edition, Chapter 15 Fever. W.B. Saunders Company.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Barron Patrick (2003) Hydrotherapy Theory and Technique Pine Island