Why do people die from very severe fevers?

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience' started by FrankBaker, May 20, 2014.

  1. This question has stumped me for nearly over a decade. At first I assumed it had something to do with cells expanding under the heat, but I cannot find any plausible theories.
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  3. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    Web MD gives a good explanation of fevers in general

    As for why prolonged high fevers (over 104 in adults) are dangerous - it is a couple things, including a rapid increase in the loss of bodily fluids leading to dehydration, breakdown or speedup of enzymes, and potentially damage to the brain if the fever is high enough (I believe over 106).

    I'm sure someone with more experience in the health care field can give you a better answer though

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  5. The enzyme theory is obsolete and proven wrong. Enzymes break down around temperatures that other common organic materials break down.
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  7. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

    Do you have a citation for this?
  8. Citation #1. From Huffingtonpost [can't post links with my post count at the moment. Sorry]
    There have been cases where people's body temperatures have locally raised to above the temperature of combustion. This is a well-documented phenomenon, with still no adequate explanation.

    ''Frank Baker faced death while earning two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, but the scariest moment of his life came in June 1995.

    Baker was in his home in Vermont, when he suddenly burst into flames, an experience he discusses for the first time on "The Unexplained Files," airing Oct. 2 on the Science Channel.

    "We were getting ready for fishing and sitting on the couch," Baker said on the episode. "Everything was great. [Friend] Pete [Willey] was sitting next to me [and] we were having a helluva time."

    That is, until things started heating up -- literally -- when flames appeared on Baker's body.

    "It was the damndest thing I've ever seen," Willey remembered. "Frank was freaking out and making me freak out."

    Baker started panicking and tried everything to stop his body from being burned.

    "I had no idea what was taking place on my body -- none," he said.

    Baker and Willey somehow put out the flames and got to a doctor. But the diagnosis was as shocking as the sudden flames that engulfed his body.

    "The doctor called, and said, 'Frank, this burned from the inside out,'" Baker said.'''

    Citation #2.

    Daily Mail: Can a baby just burst into flames? This child is claimed to have spontaneously combusted FOUR times. Crazy? A new theory offers a tantalising explanation''
  9. Enmos Registered Senior Member

    Not this again...
  10. All I'm doing is providing evidence against this theory. Doesn't matter if you don't believe in SHC.( there are people who don't believe 9/11 happened but that doesn't mean 9/11 should be shunned.) I directly copy and pasted from the news articles. They made the rounds a while ago.
  11. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

  12. Facts are facts. I /was/ asked to cite.
  13. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    It's just that this whole human combustion thing is so... open ended? There is little to no good, hard science on it... I would think if it were real, some hospital, some where, would have an on-film documented case of it...
  14. But then skeptics would moan that it hasn't happened in a lab (how exactly do you monitor someone like that?)

    If enzymes break down at fever temperatures, then that would mean a metabolic scenario leading to spontaneous human combustion is an impossibility.

    The two recent cases last year have proven that otherwise. Skeptics haven't touched them.
  15. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    What makes you say that? I would think different enzymes fail at different temperatures - some enzyme reactions speed up when a fever occurs, and only fail at incredibly high fevers (106+). SHC seems to depend more on specific chemicals occurring in the body but... yeah...

    Fair enough, but then where are the scientific papers? Huffington Post is... well, it's nice and all, but not really a science site.
  16. Science says that enzymes are broken down by too many reactive chemicals also.

    Science also says that no enzymes can reach 200 C, for example.

    Science basically says SHC cannot happen.

    So what if it's not a science journal? 9/11 happened, do you need a science journal to prove it was planes that hit those towers?
  17. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    *shakes head* I haven't even taken a position against you, and already you are getting defensive and aggravated... good grief.
    My point is simply this: the idea of SHC needs more true scientific study.
  18. How do you study SHC? Hook a person up for their entire life to a temperature sensor and hope they combust? Not likely, and also unethical.

    The sad thing is many scientists are arrogant enough to say SHC is an impossibility. They probably wouldn't do those studies anyway because it'd threaten their egos in the trillion chance it did randomly happen to the test subjects.
  19. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member


    okay then... I'm just going to back away slowly...
  20. So you agree with me then. It's called logic. How else could SHC be proven but with a horrendously unlikely and unethical method?
  21. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    Multiple ways... the man you mention claims to have had it happen multiple times. I would say after the first, some simple biometrics integrated into a vest or some other such object would be worn to monitor things such as vital signs.
  22. Temperature sensors, though I don't know if there are wireless versions.
    Just because something cannot be ethically proven in a lab, doesn't mean the idea should be shunned, it's also not nice to call people liars when they could genuinely be suffering.
  23. Kittamaru Never cruel nor cowardly... Staff Member

    In science, there is a difference between saying someone is lying, and saying that you are skeptical. From the stories I have found about this particular instance, it sounds as if he and his buddies may have been imbibing... if that is the case, then there could very easily be something missing from this puzzle - a dropped match or cigarette, for example, that they missed in their inebriated state.

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