“My temperature is 101! Where is my ibuprofen?”
Is this your first reaction to a fever? It might not be the best action to take.
Why Taking Medicine to Reduce a Fever Might Not Be the Best Approach
A fever is the body’s natural reaction to fight off an infection, like a cold or the flu. A fever is a symptom of an illness, but not an illness itself.
Many illness-causing germs thrive at or below the body's normal temperature. Two purposes of a fever are:
- A fever increases the body’s temperature beyond the limit that invading microbes need to reproduce.
- A fever kicks your immune system into high gear, increasing the number of white blood cells which help fight the actual illness.
For most adults, 102-103 degrees is the ideal temperature for the body to kill off these microbes. (source) Research shows that letting a fever run its course may reduce the length and severity of illnesses such as colds and flu.
Furthermore, conventional methods of reducing a fever can do more harm than good. Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil and Motrin (ibuprofin) all have side effects (read a long list on the package) that includes liver damage in adults and children, especially when taken frequently. Medications are foreign substances, which the body has to metabolize and filter. This requires energy that the body could be using to fight the actual illness that led to the fever in the first place.
What About Other Cold and Flu Symptoms?
There are many ways that our bodies fight off illness caused by viruses and bacteria. Coughing, sneezing, nasal mucous, vomiting, and diarrhea are ways that your body gets rid of pathogens. Taking medications to suppress these symptoms can slow down our bodies natural processes healing itself.
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