As I understand it most of what we consider cold/flu symptoms, (fever, chills runny nose etc.) are actually caused by the reaction of our immune system to the virus. Presumably our immune system presents those symptoms because at some level that helps to rid us of the virus. If I take medicine to lower my fever or stop my nose from running, aren’t I acting against my own system natural system and delaying my recovery?
Lowering fever is probably counterproductive but I’m not aware of any good studies proving it. I can’t think of any delays which would be related to other symptomatic care.
I would say the biggie is that the other symptoms tend to lead to lack of sleep which definately inhibits your immune system.
I wonder this as well, but I’ll also throw in using a neti pot. I seemed to be sicker longer this last time because I used that to keep from getting clogged up. But it also could have been just a longer lasting strain.
Personally, if fever is not dangerously high, I allow it. No controlled studies, though.
Ooh good question. I have a related anecdote:
When I was having shortness of breath a couple months ago, my doctor prescribed a medication that lowered my immune system response. She explained to me that I was likely experiencing an exaggerated immune system response, where my throat was tightening in response to a foreign agent, thinking it was protecting me but actually doing my harm than good.
This is how allergic reaction works. If you are allergic to, say, bees, you need to take an epinephrine injection to reverse your immune system reaction (which may, among other things, constrict your airway and blood cells, reducing oxygen and blood flow and possibly killing you). My point is that sometimes your natural immune system reaction does more harm than good, and working against your own natural system does not necessarily delay recovery.
Just to add fuel to the fire:
You might also factor in the complications that may arise when symptoms aren’t controlled, like ordinary congestion from a cold that in turn becomes a sinus infection. (This from my doc, who just treated me for a sinus infection–he says the mucus is a breeding ground for bacteria.)
OTOH, my kids’ pediatrician advised against decongestants when they had colds, as they dry the secretions, exacerbating their asthma symptoms, which included thickened secretions in the bronchial tubes.
Granted, those aren’t ways medications prolong the original illness, but if you’re just looking at how long the person is ill, they’re relevant.
Mucus and secretions: is there anybody who doesn’t love 'em?
Well, my single little anecdote is that I supress the flying fuck out of teh symptoms. Soesnt shorten anything but it make sit comfortable. The instant I get that little tickle in my throat [usually on the left side] I immediately start with the guaifenesin and nasonex. I keep it up religiously for the 14 days. If I even oops and slide a dose but an hour late, the entire mucous avalanch hits, and my sinuses go solid and my throat becomes a raw tube of meat.
I normally use my neti every shower, it keeps the pollen allergies from killing me. I have a pine tree and a forsythia that conspire to kill me every spring =(