If we think of the natural process of illness and immune system response in a circular way, we enter the circle upon peripheral exposure to a germ. Entry into the body is based upon susceptibility. A pathogen can enter through a break in the skin or contact with respiratory tissue or the gastrointestinal tract.
White blood cells in these peripheral linings alert deeper aspects of the immune system to possible intruders. After exposure, during the incubation of a disease, the prodrome, all aspects of the immune system are engaged and activated in identifying the nature of the infectious agent. While no actual symptoms of disease are yet apparent, there may be energetic disturbances, emotional withdrawal, and changes in appetite or difficulty sleeping at this stage. During this phase a chill can develop. The chill signals the body to increase its temperature and sets the muscles to contract calling upon the bones to release calcium to protect the brain through the febrile process.
Next a fever develops. This can build slowly over a period of days or suddenly depending on the vitality of the individual. During this time, antibody production is initiated to engage with the pathogen or virus. Viral illnesses stimulate moderate fevers while bacteria require a high fever to keep them in check.
During the fever, white blood cell activity localizes and de-activates the viral or bacterial agent. A discharge or eruption follows to remove the antibody/antigen complex out of the body, i.e., the pustules of chickenpox, a loose cough, or purulent runny nose. Next a period of perspiration happens as the fever breaks. After which the body finds resolution and cell-mediated immunity, completing the circle of disease and returning to health. Dependent on the particular disease, this cycle can take from twenty-four hours to twenty-one days from exposure to resolution.
As this cycle repeats itself with exposure to infectious agents in the natural world, immunity is gradually developed, and vitality is enhanced. Major milestones in mental and emotional development occur as resolution of each infectious process takes place.
An intermittent fever that never breaks into a sweat is insufficient to move the individual toward resolution. Fevers must be supported to move it to completion. Antipyretics suppress fevers, never allowing the body to move through the stages of effective immune system resolution.