Sick With Flu? Don't Take a Fever-reducing Drug

Fever can lower the amount of virus in a sick person's body and help immune responses work better, according to new research quoted by Discovery News.

new-hdc-logo
Haaretz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
new-hdc-logo
Haaretz

Fever-reducing medications, which are often taken by people with flu, can result in the infection of tens of thousands of additional people each flu season. That is one of the findings of new research, as reported by Discovery News.

Fever, though unpleasant, can actually be beneficial. The condition can lower the amounts of virus in a sick person's body, because viruses replicate less efficiently in higher temperatures. Fever can also help immune responses work better.

Using mathematical models to assess the effects of widespread use of medications that suppress fever, researchers found that in a typical flu season, fever-reducing drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may lead to tens of thousands of additional influenza cases, as well as more than a thousand deaths attributable to influenza, across North America.

"When they have flu, people often take medication that reduces their fever. No one likes to feel miserable, but it turns out that our comfort might be at the cost of infecting others," said study researcher David Earn, a professor of mathematics at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

"Because fever can actually help lower the amount of virus in a sick person's body and reduce the chance of transmitting disease to others, taking drugs that reduce fever can increase transmission," Earn said. "We've discovered that this increase has significant effects when we scale up to the level of the whole population."

"People are often advised to take fever-reducing drugs, and medical texts state that doing so is harmless," said Paul Andrews, researcher at the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster. "This view needs to change."

The researchers said future experiments are needed to determine the precise increase in virus levels in the body associated with fever reduction. Studies are also needed to estimate the increase in disease spread from sick people who took fever-reducing drugs that made them feel better, allowing them to go to school or work when they should have stayed home.

Sick with fluCredit: Dreamstime

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage

Flame and smoke rise during an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022.

Israel Should End Gaza Operation Now, if It Can