My son hasn't had a fever since he was three years old when a dose of chicken pox sent his temperature racing up to 102F (38.8C). Then on Christmas Day just past, nearly 10 years on, he succumbed to the Aussie flu - sore throat, exhausted, a terrible hacking cough, a mood to go with it and an impressive 101.5F on the thermometer. I couldn't have been more delighted.
I'm not a sadist, I promise. I'm a homeopath and in my world fevers are a good thing generally speaking. A fever tells me my son's body is healthy enough to galvanise his immune system into fight mode against bacteria and viruses in the environment. Or to put it another way, I was worried about him before because he wasn't getting fevers. If that sounds like upside down thinking, read on.
In my practice I see patient after patient with chronic illnesses such as automimmune disorders, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and none of them get fevers. These patients are usually Health Level 7 or lower where it's as if the body is so preoccupied in trying to deal with the chronic symptoms (lethargy, headaches, insomnia, tachycardia, fainting etc) that it just can't raise itself to fight a passing bacteria or virus.
You'll see them get the chills, but not the fever, or very occasionally, a low grade fever, that "I know I'm coming down with something but it just never seems to arrive" feeling. I tell these patients "Once you get a proper fever over 101.3F (38.5C), then I'll know I'm on the right track. After that you're going to feel a lot better". And they do.
I've come to see a fever every year or two (or every 10 years if you're like my son) as the body's intelligent attempt at a 'spring clean' or 'reboot' for the immune system. My son has certainly come out of the Aussie flu with twice the energy he went in. The science backs this up too. There's a growing body of evidence out there to show that a fever stimulates the immune system. And also that letting a fever run its course rather than suppressing it, particularly in childhood diseases like measles or chicken pox also reduces your risk of heart disease, and cancer, including brain cancer, in later life.
But what about those people who are always getting fevers? We all know the types who again and again get cystitis with fever, sore throat with fever, another flu with fever. I'd say they are semi-healthy, but not a buoyant Level 1 or 2 like my son. I'd put them at a Health Level 6 - there's a chronic illness lurking but their body is doing its best to stay above the Plimsoll line with regular but unsuccessful attempts to bail it out. My task with this group of patients is conversely to get them to have less fevers, or to be precise, better ones that work.
There are exceptions, as in all walks of life, but in my day to day practice, the fever rule holds reliably true as a guide to a person's level of health. The theory behind this fever rule belongs to master homeopath George Vithoulkas which he eloquently describes in the Levels of Health. It's based on the thousands of patients he's seen in his in 50+ years as a practitioner and it's a convincing read.
But don't take his word for it, or mine. Look around you, who's got the most va va voom or joie de vivre? Who's got the least? Now ask when was their last fever of 101.3F (38.5C) or above.