How does our body regulate its temperature

How is body temperature regulated and what is a fever?

A healthy body functions optimally when its internal temperature is around 37 ° C. However, everyone has their own "normal" body temperature, which can be a little higher or lower. In addition, the organism constantly adjusts its temperature to the environmental conditions: if you do sport, for example, it rises. It is also lower at night than during the day and higher in the late afternoon than in the morning.

The temperature inside the body is regulated by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus checks the current temperature and compares it with the normal temperature of around 37 ° C. If the internal body temperature is too low, it ensures that the body generates and maintains heat. On the other hand, if the current body temperature is too high, heat is given off or sweat is produced, which cools the skin.

Strictly speaking, “body temperature” means the temperature in the hypothalamus and in vital internal organs. Since it is not possible to determine it from the outside, the body temperature is measured in other parts of the body that are more easily accessible. Such measurements are always somewhat imprecise.

How does a fever develop?

A fever occurs when the brain sets the body temperature higher than normal. This is triggered by pathogens such as viruses or, but also by the body's own substances such as prostaglandins. They are made to fight the pathogens.

One speaks of fever when the temperature inside the body rises to 38 ° C or more. A high fever is considered to be a temperature of 39.5 ° C or more, and a very high temperature of 41 ° C. A body temperature between 37.5 and 38 ° C is called "elevated temperature".

The temperature control does not always work perfectly with small children, and they sweat less when it is warm and also later than older children and adults. You therefore react more quickly with a fever. Babies and younger children have a higher body temperature than older children. This is because their body surface area is larger in relation to their body weight and their metabolism is more active. Newborns usually have an average body temperature of 37.5 ° C.