Did you know we can use heat to help our bodies fight infections? When we get sick, our body’s temperature rises naturally and our immune system kick-starts the process to get rid of the infection. Sometimes, doctors intentionally raise our body temperature to create a favorable situation within the body for fighting diseases. They do it through a process called hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia treatment is not only used for aiding in the Lyme disease recovery process but also for fighting other types of infections. Below, we have listed how hyperthermia raises body temperature and aids in fighting infections in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Let’s take a look.
Activates Immune Response
During an infection, our body’s immune system battles the pathogens, which causes a fever. This creates an environment within the body that prevents the rapid growth of bacteria and infection. The higher temperature helps activate our immune response by sending an alarm to our immune cells, signaling them to work harder and faster. Also, when our body temperature goes up, the immune cells multiply and become better at fighting off harmful pathogens. Hyperthermia uses this principle to aid in fighting infections faster.
Inhibits Pathogen Growth
An increased temperature also inhibits pathogen growth in the body. As we get a fever and our body temperature goes up, it can directly stop the growth and reproduction of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These are the tiny organisms that can make us feel unwell. Hyperthermia is nothing but increasing the body temperature artificially and creating a fever-like environment that doesn’t let such pathogens grow. When the germs can’t grow and replicate, they become weaker. It limits their ability to cause infections.
Enhances Pathogen Recognition
When our body has a high temperature, it makes it easier for our immune cells to recognize various pathogens that make us sick. Hyperthermia does the same. You can think of this process as turning up the heat to help our immune cells work more efficiently and identify pathogens much more quickly. This leads to our body mounting a quicker and stronger defense against the infection, helping us get better faster.
Increases Immune Cell Activity
Just like a fever, hyperthermia boosts the activity of our immune cells, especially the white blood cells. The increased body temperature facilitates immune cell multiplication and supplies more immune cells to protect the body. The heightened heat also activates their functions. It increases their mobility and makes the identification of pathogens easier and faster. It also improves communication between immune cells, which makes working in synchrony much easier. A combination of these activities makes fighting germs and infection much smoother and quicker.
Disrupts Biofilm Formation
Some bacteria can create a sticky layer called biofilm to protect themselves from our immune system and medicines and facilitate their growth. The heat from hyperthermia disrupts the biofilm formation by altering the structure and function of the biofilm matrix. The immune system then finds it easier to attack and destroy the pathogens. Hyperthermia can also target and destroy the metabolism of bacteria within the biofilm and prevent their proliferation. The process also increases the efficiency of medicines like antibiotics.
Improves Blood Circulation
When our body temperature rises through hyperthermia, our blood vessels become wider. This process is called vasodilation. It allows more blood to flow through our vessels and carry immune cells and antibodies to the wounded area. This means that our body can launch a stronger defense against germs, fighting them off quickly.
Hyperthermia also aids the process by increasing cardiac output. This increases the heartbeat rate and the heart pumps blood faster, making it easier for the immune cells to visit the affected area much more quickly.
Improves Antibiotic Efficacy
Hyperthermia can improve the efficacy of antibiotics in several ways. It increases the permeability of the bacterial cell membrane, making it easier for the medicines to attack the bacteria and kill it off. The process can also strengthen the activities of certain antibiotics, making the treatment substantially effective. It can also disrupt the defense of the pathogens and make them vulnerable to the administered medicine. Also, hyperthermia allows the immune cells to work together with the antibiotics to achieve a stronger antibacterial effect.
Enhances Metabolic Activities
When hyperthermia enhances the body temperature, it also enhances the body’s metabolic activity. As a result, our cells work faster and produce more energy. The system then spends the energy to improve the immune system and boost it up, resulting in the body fighting off the infection much faster and more efficiently.
Enhances Antibody Production
Antibodies are proteins that help our immune system recognize and neutralize harmful pathogens. Hyperthermia stimulates the production of such antibodies, resulting in faster elimination of pathogens and quicker healing.
Increases Enzyme Activities
Enzymes are special proteins that help carry out various biochemical reactions. When our body temperature rises, these enzymes become more active, facilitating important processes that support our immune response. This increased enzyme activity can enhance the efficiency of our immune system in detecting and eliminating infectious agents, further aiding in the fight against infections.
Hyperthermia helps our immune system become stronger and more effective in defeating pathogens and expediting the healing process. Although widely used to treat different health conditions including Lyme disease, hyperthermia isn’t the only way to fight infections.
Maintaining a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, resting enough, and exercising also help to improve our immune system and fight pathogens when needed. Additionally, vaccines are important tools that train our bodies to recognize and fight specific infections.