Fever (also known as pyrexia, from the Greek pyretos meaning fire, or a febrile response, from the Latin word febris, meaning fever, and archaically known as ague) is a frequent medical sign that describes an increase in internal body temperature to levels above normal. Fever is most accurately characterized as a temporary elevation in the body's thermoregulatory set-point, usually by about 1–2 °C.
Fever differs from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature over the body's thermoregulatory set-point, due to excessive heat production or insufficient thermoregulation, or both. Carl Wunderlich discovered that fever is not a disease but a symptom of disease.
The elevation in thermoregulatory set-point means that the previous "normal body temperature" is considered hypothermic, and effector mechanisms kick in. The person who is developing the fever has a cold sensation, and an increase in heart rate, muscle tone and shivering attempt to counteract the perceived hypothermia, thereby reaching the new thermoregulatory set-point. A fever is one of the body's mechanisms to try to neutralize the perceived threat inside the body, be it bacterial or viral.