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  #1  
Old 03-16-2005, 10:27 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Does "Sweating Out" A Fever Really Work?

In movies and TV shows, you'll often see where someone comes down with a high fever, and for whatever reason, there's no medication available to treat the illness, so sooner or later someone comes up with the idea of putting the person close to a fire or wrapping them heavily in something to force the person's body temp to rise higher than the fever would cause it to be. The idea being that by raising the temp so high, you accelerate the process of the fever being burned out. I can see how this might work, but given it's frequent use in TV and movies, I'm inclined to say it's bullshit.
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2005, 10:42 PM
shev2 shev2 is offline
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hello.

A fever is one of the bodies natural defenses. by increasing temperature it killes whatever is affecting your body (or tries to) by increasing the temp, it should kill it off better/faster, but at a certain point brain cells and stuff start to die off. so after increasing your temp, you may kill the "bug" off, then your fever would go away since whatever caused you to get a fever died.
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  #3  
Old 03-16-2005, 10:55 PM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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I can't imagine that increasing your body's dehydration is likely to have any beneficial result. The idea that you are going to sweat out toxins and become purified is part of many religious rituals, but I doubt that modern medicine would back this up.
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  #4  
Old 03-16-2005, 11:17 PM
Nunavut Boy Nunavut Boy is offline
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Certain bacteria can only reproduce in a very narrow range of temperatures (depending on the species). It would not be unreasonable for a certain bacteria to be able to reproduce well at 35-38 degrees C. So, if you were able to increase your body tempertaure past 38, your body might well be able to gain the upper hand.

Other things happen when you increase your body temp that I have no business in explaining (metabolism, enzyme efficiency etc).
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  #5  
Old 03-16-2005, 11:29 PM
kinoons kinoons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkfreud
I can't imagine that increasing your body's dehydration is likely to have any beneficial result. The idea that you are going to sweat out toxins and become purified is part of many religious rituals, but I doubt that modern medicine would back this up.
I don't see any correlation between a fever and dehydration. It is quite possible to run a fever and maintain your hydration.
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  #6  
Old 03-17-2005, 12:57 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkfreud
I can't imagine that increasing your body's dehydration is likely to have any beneficial result. The idea that you are going to sweat out toxins and become purified is part of many religious rituals, but I doubt that modern medicine would back this up.
That has nothing to do with what is meant by "sweating out a fever." The sweating in this case is from the rise in body heat. "Sweating it out" means not allowing the cooling (and drying) from evaporation that normally accompanies sweating. Rather, you stay wrapped up in the blankets, stay plenty warm, and sweat even more. And as mentioned, dehydration is neither needed nor intended. Drink all you want while doing this.

What is intended is to maintain a feverish temperature. However, the ill person is typically much more aware of constant sweating than of high temperature, so the process is described by its most obvious aspect.
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2005, 01:17 AM
pinkfreud pinkfreud is offline
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OK, I misunderstood. I thought you were referring to the "sweat lodge" concept.
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  #8  
Old 03-17-2005, 03:10 AM
Sir Doris Sir Doris is offline
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Dunno about adults, but children with a fever are meant to be kept cool. Light or no clothing, comfortable room temperature, i.e. not cold, but not too warm.
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  #9  
Old 03-17-2005, 03:34 AM
MartinL MartinL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Doris
Dunno about adults, but children with a fever are meant to be kept cool. Light or no clothing, comfortable room temperature, i.e. not cold, but not too warm.
Did you get that information from a doctor, or is it just that "everybody knows" that at your place?
Children or adults, if you have a fever, your body tries to heat up. If you want to get the temperature down, take some medication, but do not make the body try even harder. It has got enough to do fighting whatever it is already.
Fever is commonly accompanied by general weakness, so resting in bed (and naturally, being covered by a blanket) is the first thing to do unless a doctor tells you otherwise.
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2005, 04:32 AM
Skellington Skellington is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Doris
Dunno about adults, but children with a fever are meant to be kept cool. Light or no clothing, comfortable room temperature, i.e. not cold, but not too warm.
I think this comes from the fact that a child's (smaller) body gets too hot and too cold much faster than that of an adult. If the body is already hot it is a good idea not to make it hotter and vice versa (BTW is that how you spell it?). The child probably has a better chance aganst the infection than he/she would aganst hyper/hypothermia.
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  #11  
Old 03-17-2005, 06:49 AM
BwanaBob BwanaBob is offline
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I'm quite certain my son's pediatrician told us that fever is the "by-product" of the body fighting infection, not the actual "method" of fighting infection.

He advocate reducing a fever; lowering the body's temperature isn't disrupting the body's immune system.
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  #12  
Old 03-17-2005, 07:31 AM
Sir Doris Sir Doris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinL
Did you get that information from a doctor, or is it just that "everybody knows" that at your place?
That's how children with a high fever were treated in hospital while my daughter was a patient. They weren't necessarily confined to bed, and wondered round the ward in not very much at all.
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2005, 07:59 AM
MartinL MartinL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Doris
That's how children with a high fever were treated in hospital while my daughter was a patient. They weren't necessarily confined to bed, and wondered round the ward in not very much at all.
This amazes me a bit. I agree that it may not be a good idea to make a fever rise artificially high in children, but letting them just cool down as you described can easily lead to secondary infections, since the body surface may cool down more than desired.
Since it was in hospital, I trust that the doctors and nurses knew what they did and monitored the patients' conditions regularly. My main point was that I would not let a seriously ill child with high fever wander around at home, unless a doctor told me so.

Anyway, this link may be interesting: http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz...ency/fever.jsp
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  #14  
Old 03-17-2005, 05:59 PM
shev2 shev2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BwanaBob
I'm quite certain my son's pediatrician told us that fever is the "by-product" of the body fighting infection, not the actual "method" of fighting infection.

He advocate reducing a fever; lowering the body's temperature isn't disrupting the body's immune system.
Actually the fever is the actual method of fighting off the bacteria. there is a certain temp before things start to die off, it is best to leave the body do its work unless the fever rises dangerously high.
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  #15  
Old 03-17-2005, 06:33 PM
Tenzin Tenzin is offline
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Not going by movies or TV shows, the cartoon Shadow World, but, in real life, yes, it does.

When getting the first symtoms of cold/flu, I used to suppress syptoms with OTC medicines. Generally had a cold for a week or so, but with some alleviation. Educated myself a bit, and now, at first signs of cold/flu, let my body do it's work, and aid it with echinacea tincture every 3 hours, and encourage rising body temp, as said, the body's first defense tactic. I take a hot bath, drink a lot of ginger tea, which promotes sweating, and wrap myself in covers. By the second day, I am usually clear of whatever bug. Since doing this, I've never had a cold or flu last more than 3 days.

This is anectdotal, and have no cites other that it works well for me & other adult friends, but, have found it to work well. That is, for basic cold/flu symptoms; there are many other reasons for fever, and would always recommend a physician for proper treatment.
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  #16  
Old 03-17-2005, 06:53 PM
kinoons kinoons is offline
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There have been many threads on this board about fevers, and if they should be allowed to run their course or be treated.

The major concern for children is if they spike a fever in a short time. If a child crawls to a fever of 105 it is much less dangerous than a sudden jump to 103. By leaving the child uncovered you are encouraging them to cool off, but if they start to shiver, then leaving them uncovered is counter productive. In the medical community there are providers on both sides of if a fever should be allowed to run its course or be treated.
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  #17  
Old 03-17-2005, 09:03 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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I see a lot of febrile kids with anxious parents who own faulty thermometers.

An infection can cause fever, pain, discomfort and other symptoms. The fever is the body's reaction to the infection. Its presence lets you know the body is trying to fight the infection off. Giving medicine is helpful if the fever is very high, there is a history of febrile seizures, the child is uncomfortable or in pain... giving medicine solely to reduce the fever is much less useful... though anxious parents don't believe this. Sweating, feeding, starving -- these methods increase the stress on the body. Absence of fever with an infection is a more serious sign; many infections in infants present with a drop in temperature -- I'd rather see 39 than 35 degrees.
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  #18  
Old 03-17-2005, 09:14 PM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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This practice of "sweating out" a fever is likely a remnant of the old pre-scientific heroic medicine, wherein disease was thought to be due to an imbalance of the four humours, and treatment was geared towards rebalancing those humours. Most of the old treatments -- bleeding, vomiting through use of poisonous emetics, violent laxatives, mercury to induce salivation, etc. -- have long disappeared, but many harmless treatments still survive, including sweating a fever, soaking the feet for a cold, mustard poultices, gentle laxatives to ensure regularity, etc.
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