When you have the flu, what’s one of the first things you do? If you’re like most people, you take something to reduce your fever. But new research suggests that this could be more harmful than you might think.
Your body’s temperature rises for a reason. When your body senses infection, your brain detects telltale chemical signals in your bloodstream and your body temperature rises. The theory is that your body is trying to fight off bacteria and viruses that are sensitive to temperature changes. Often, though, our first instinct is to get our body temperature back to normal, and we turn to ibuprofen or other fever-reducing drugs (antipyretics) for relief.
Research 40 years ago showed that patients taking antipyretics shed more virus particles than those who didn’t. But new influenza research in ferrets looks at the possible impact on the general population, and suggests that use of these drugs could lead to a 1-5% increase in cases of the flu.
While there’s definitely more work to be done, just keep in mind that your decision to medicate could affect the people around you, as well. What do you think? What do YOU do when you have a fever?