Does taking Paracetemol and Ibuprofen help or inhibit the healing process of fever?
Fever is one of the most common symptoms of flu and other infectious diseases. To alleviate its unpleasant symptoms, conventional treatment often includes taking anti-pyretic (fever-lowering) drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, but is this method of treatment the best way to overcome the illness? Immunologists know that fever actually plays an important role in the body’s fight against infections, as it reduces the ability of viruses and bacteria to multiply, and enables the immune system to function more effectively (1).
There are many studies which present us with overwhelming evidence that fever plays a protective role in the body’s fight against infection. This is the conclusion of an in-depth review of experimental and observational studies published in 1996 (2), entitled “The adaptive value of fever.” This overview also concludes that the use of fever reducing drugs “most probably results in increased morbidity and mortality during most infections”. Most strikingly, the authors also found that “in studies involving children who had ‘febrile’ convulsions, it was reported that high fevers were associated with lower incidence of subsequent febrile convulsions”.
More recently a new aspect of fever suppression has been widely discussed. A study entitled “Population-level effects of suppressing fever”, published in January 2014 highlights the finding that lowering the fever can make the virus replicate faster and thus increase the transmission rate of infection. This implies that “a larger proportion of the population will be infected, so widespread antipyretic drug use is likely to lead to more illness and death”. The data assembled in this study suggests, for instance, that in the US alone fever suppression increases the expected number of deaths for seasonal influenza by 5%. (3)
The authors of the same study also note, that “it has been suggested that the widespread use of aspirin in the 1918 influenza pandemic may have increased disease severity and consequently death rates”. This is backed by the experience of homeopathic physicians who treated patients in the 1918 pandemic and who refused to give aspirin to their patients, treating them instead with homeopathic remedies. Data comparing death rates of patients treated by homeopathic versus allopathic (orthodox) physicians in this pandemic demonstrates that homeopaths were by far the more successful in saving lives. (4)
These studies show that we need to be well informed when embarking on a particular type of treatment and carefully weigh the pros and cons of each intervention. Thus, it may not be a good idea to automatically reach for the ibuprofen or calpol to suppress a fever. It may be more beneficial, for the present and future health of each of us, to learn more about what is safe and what isn’t in the management of a fever, and become more aware of the existing alternatives.
A more gentle, non-suppressive approach, which works by sustaining and strengthening the defence mechanism of the body should be the first choice for most of us, especially where there are no underlying immune deficiencies or other chronic conditions that require medical supervision. Homeopathy is certainly one such gentle approach, with a well-documented record of effective treatment of epidemics and infectious diseases in America and Europe, starting from the first half of the 19th century and until today. Homeopathic remedies are non-toxic, highly diluted preparations derived from natural substances and as such free of side effects. They can be used safely by anyone, provided one knows how to use them.
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(1)Murphy KM 2011, Janeway‘s Immunobiology, 8th edn. New York, NY: Garland Science, Page 110