Is sweating out a fever actually safe?

Seeing an elevated temperature on a thermometer can be alarming. You may start worrying about whether you need to call the doctor, or if you can just sweat it out a home. The answer, like most things, is a little more complicated than a simple yes.

A fever is any temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or higher, according to Healthline. The good news is that rarely is fever itself something that needs to be treated. A fever is not a condition in and of itself; it's usually a symptom that your immune system has fired up to fight off an infection. Occasionally, fevers can also be caused by heat exhaustion, inflammatory diseases, medications, and some vaccinations, according to the Mayo Clinic. If a fever reaches 103 degrees, it is considered an emergency and requires medical attention.

Bacteria and viruses survive well at our standard human body temperature, around 98.6 degrees, according to Health. To rid the body of these invaders, the hypothalamus portion of our brain will increase body temperature, creating an inhospitable environment.

Side effects to sweating out a fever

Some people believe that bundling up in layers or exercising to induce sweating will help rid the body of fever faster. The theory is that sweat evaporating off the skin cools the body, bringing the fever down, according to Well+Good. While this is not quite dangerous, unfortunately there is no evidence that it actually works, and it could even have some unwanted side effects.

Fevers usually dehydrate the body, and sweating increases the likelihood of further dehydration. Whether you decide to turn your room into a sauna or not, be sure you're taking in lots of liquids. If you do decide to exercise, be aware that you could be prolonging your illness. The body is already working overtime to rid itself of bacteria or viruses, so exhausting it will just slow that process.

A better option is to try and make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you feel chills, bundle up in blankets until they pass. If you're overheated, try a lukewarm shower or cold compresses on your neck or forehead. And be kind to your body. Take this opportunity to give it all the rest it wants while it works hard to bring you back to health.