Fever is your friend, don’t kill it

When your body temperature rises, your first reaction might be to turn to the medicine cabinet and reach for an antipyretic (Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen – Crocin, Paracetamol and Calpol ) and pop a few of them in. In most cases, this is guaranteed (well, almost) to bring body temperature down and give a feeling of relief. But is it wise to go for this quick relief? Or are you sacrificing your overall long term health for temporary convenience and a couple of days’ lost wages (or school)?

First thing to keep in mind is that, like any allopathic medication, antipyretic drugs comes with side effects. Check this for information on downsides  of Acetaminophen. But more than that, one must consider what the body is trying to achieve by raising its temperature and what might be the consequence of suppressing this natural response by the body.

What is Fever?

Fever is a condition in which the body temperature  is elevated beyond the normal range. The normal temperature is considered to be 98.6 degree Fahrenheit and one degree above and below that is considered normal temperature fluctuation. As most of us may already know, fever itself is not a disease but usually related to stimulation of body’s immune response to gain advantage over infectious agents, such as bacteria and virus, which are very temperature sensitive. There are also non-infectious causes of fever.

Suppress it or let it ride?

What does the science say about whether fever is good or bad? The answer is that they don’t know. According to this, there is no conclusive evidence to prove one way or the other.

There is no evidence to support the theory that it is beneficial to suppress every fever with antipyretic drugs. Theoretically, critically ill patients can have a beneficial outcome from antipyretic usage but evidence does not lend support to this theory. In fact, the only case where there is a scientific evidence that fever reduction is beneficial to the human body in even an ICU setting is during acute brain injury.

Fever is understood to be protective mechanism by the body to promote anti microbial activity. It is also said to help enhance immune-cell function. Randomized controlled studies in ICU settings also failed to prove any benefit of antipyretic medication when compared to subjects receiving external cooling on study parameters such as fever recurrence, infection, antibiotic therapy, ICU and hospital length of stay. There were also studies that said antipyretic treatment may have some benefit over placebo but more and more newer studies support the theory that it is likely more beneficial to let it ride.

Consume Antipyretic?

If you go to a doctor with fever, chances are that they prescribe some antipyretic drug to reduce your body temperature. This can be associated with standard dogma rather than evidence based practice. In a country like India, many people even question the competency of their physician if he/she does not prescribe medicines after consultation. This could be a reason why doctors are forced to give medication after seeing a patient.

Takeaway

Trust in your body’s ability to heal itself and its intelligence to respond to external forces acting on it. Fever is estimated to be over 4 million years old and over a period of time, people have found their way through it. Look for wisdom passed on over the generations. Starve the fever. Look for alternative modes of treatment – Ayurveda, Homeopathy etc. Many common spices and natural essential oils are known to reduce help get over fevers. Consult expert doctors in these fields

As always, find out what your grandmother did for fever and what her grandmother would have advised. That is likely to take you closer to where you need to be, compared to an aggressive antipyretic treatment.

References
    • http://www.turmeriq.com/2013/02/19/dangers-of-crocin-paracetamol-and-calpol-acetaminophen
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703655/
    • https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/fevers-causes-symptoms-treatments#1
    • https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-causes-a-fever/