Will I get better quicker if I let my fever run it's course?

I am sick right now and I have a fever. The way I understand it is that a fever is your body “turning up the heat” so that the cold virus can not survive and dies off. My mom wants me to take some fever reducing cough syrup but is there any reason I should do that since all the cough syrup will do is make me light headed and mask the symptoms temporarily and the fever is actually killing the virus, why shouldn’t I just let the fever run it’s course?

of course, when yer fever hits 104 you get some really cool hallucinations :smiley:

…if you are running a fever… don’t sleep on a heated waterbed… I used to have one and the two times i ran a fever… it’d spike up to 104 (or higher) when I slept in my bed :eek: , but came right back down if i slept on the couch. :o

I’m almost at 102 as of the time I am writing this, I feel so cold though…why?
My head is about to explode like ka boom atleast that is how I feel. If I put up with this for a while longer I should be better soon.

IANAD, but although a fever indicates that your body is fighting infection, it doesn’t mean that it can do it all alone. A continual high fever can cause damage to internal organs, including the brain. Coughing can exhaust you as can shivering. Fever is more a by-product of the immune systems actions. Reducing a fever does not interfere with the functioning of the immune system.

Alleviating the symptoms of an illness causes your body to conserve its strength to fight the illness.

While a fever can be helpful in combatting certain diseases, there’s no data suggesting that treating the fever with tylenol or ibuprofen or aspirin impairs the body’s ability to combat the disease. So I recommend that my patients take such medications judiciously so they can feel less uncomfortable while ill.

No aspirin for kids, of course. Don’t wanna be blamed for any Reyes cases!

Fever is probably a *response * to infection. As QtM said, the studies that have been done really didn’t show a significant difference between treated and untreated fever.
The reason you feel cold is that your fever is going up. Once stablized, one might feel weird (my skin doesn’t fit right when I have a fever) and possibly still feel cold, but, you’re less likely to shiver.
Stress slows healing, and fever is stressful. If you treat the fever, you should get better 10 minutes sooner. :smiley: If you have a cold, untreated it will last about a week, if you treat the fever, it should only last 7 days.

In “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” Jared Diamond writes that the temperature rise during fever is not a symptom but rather the body attempting to destroy the bacteria/virus by overheating. I had never heard this before and was surprised. Diamond isn’t a doctor but his book is well researched. Can anyone comment?

Fever is a sign, not a symptom. Feeling hot would be a symptom.

Never read Diamond’s book, so I can’t comment on whether it’s well researched or not. Picunurse and I have already commented on fever and disease.

IANAD but in Biochemistry class we were told about these “thinning herbals” that work by interfering with the cells energy-release mechanisms. Without getting into the chemical details, the energy would get released but not be useable, so it would become heat… fever. It could kill you. Extasis kills through that same mechanism.

I realize a cold or flu doesn’t kill through overheating, but it still was one of the scariest things we ever had to learn about.

Heat is a side product of your body’s chemical workings. It needs to be released properly, in order for the body to be able to keep on working. That’s why it’s so tiresome to be in a place that’s over body heat temperature: the body can’t get rid of its excess heat.

When you are infected, the body works extra hard, so its temperature rises (not so different from when you’re working out, but the chemical reactions are different and less controlled).

While it is important to keep in mind that you’re sick and should not pick today to try and break any world records, lowering the fever is definitely not a bad idea.

PS: Qadgop, no aspirin for women just out of natural delivery, either. A friend of mine died from that, I don’t remember what the syndrome was called.

OK, I see this thread running a high risk of heading into “bad info” territory. Let’s try to head that off right now.

And there’s lots more good info on fever in the full article which can be found here: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/articles/15503-1.asp


I haven’t heard about this, although many of my pregnancy books are saying no asprin for fever **during **pregnancy, although it may simply be a theoretic precaution. I don’t know of any babies born with Reyes’ Syndrome after mom took asprin while pregnant, but why risk it?

Obviously, asprin late in pregnancy could thin the blood and lead to bleeding problems if you go into labor. [/hijack]

I think the thing to go by is your comfort, as long as the fever doesn’t go any higher. If you’re feeling more or less OK, I’d give the fever a chance, in case Diamond’s theory is correct. As QtM says though, you shouldn’t suffer. If you feel like reducing the fever would help you feel better, by all means take something.

If the fever gets higher, you do run the risk of febrile convulsions, so definitely take something.

And if it’ll make your mom feel better, take something! :smiley:

Qadgop, picunurse, Doc Paprika, and other health care practitioners:

I asked this once before, and the discussion got hijacked into my misuse of the term NSAIDs and never resolved:

Would any of you feel comfortable outlining, in simplest terms, the values and contraindications of aspirin, buffered aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and combinations thereof, for various of their standard usages: analgesia, fever reduction, etc.? I know they are not precisely interchangeable, and each is most effective for certain things, but even reading the fine print in ads critically, I cannot form a good understanding of which is best when and why. Would you care to summarize the proper usage in better critical analysis than ads promoting one or another of them do?

Acetominophen isn’t a NSAID.

From you cite it says that shivers are caused because the body wants to increase it´s temperature to a new setting, something I already knew, but everytime I had fever my mother used to keep me from covering with a blanket saying that it was bad to get hot. Is it really?, why wouldn´t be advisable to stop the shivering by getting to the new temperature baseline faster (as long as it doesn´t get the fever too high?)

Was I just wooshed? Were you trying to be funny? **Polycarp **didn’t say it was. He commented that last time he got hijacked re: drug terminology and this time carefully didn’t use drug terminology, just a list of the drugs, and you still try to hijack him on use of terminology? :confused:

Am I feverish?

Basically, it is really quite simple. Use whatever works for you.

Acetaminophen (aka tylenol, APAP) reduces pain and fever with a single dose. It can be tough on the liver, if the liver is unhealthy. But if one’s liver is fine, and one isn’t drinking alcohol, one can probably take up to 4 grams a day without many worries. Acetaminophen is easy on the stomach compared to NSAIDS.

NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, etc. etc. etc) also reduce pain and fever with a single dose. And when taken regularly for a week or so, can reduce inflammation. BUT THEY DO NOT REDUCE INFLAMMATION WITH ONLY A FEW DOSES. With a single dose they can also cause stomach upset, and can cause GI bleeding. Aspirin in particular decreases platelet functioning, and this can enhance bleeding problems further, but this is not usually a problem for otherwise healthy individuals. Other NSAIDS cause some alteration in bleeding too, but for most it is usually trivial. NSAIDS should also be used with caution in people with kidney abnormalities.

Buffered aspirin can reduce the stomach symptoms somewhat, but the risk of GI bleeding remains.

Some experts are now recommending using Acetaminophen and avoiding NSAIDS after traumatic injuries, saying use of aspirin or ibuprofen may actually increase swelling in the traumatized area, by decreasing the body’s clotting abilities acutely. I’m not aware of much literature backing this claim up.

I’m not gonna get into the COX-II inhibitors (Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex) here. I rarely prescribed them before, and do so even less now.

Bottom line? If one is healthy and has a headache or fever or stubbed toe or whatever, take whatever works for you. Follow the directions on the bottle, or the directions given by your doc. Next time, try another type of pain/fever reliever if you were not satisfied with the results of the first one.

Mom was wrong, unless your fever was edging into seizure territory. I only worry about a fever (after I’ve examined the person) if it goes up over 104 and doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medications.

Aspirin and other NSAIDS should generally be avoided during the final trimester, as it could cause the ductus arteriosus to close prematurely in the fetus.

And aspirin specifically should be avoided near delivery as it increases the risk of maternal hemorrhage in the post-partum period.

Aspirin is generally stopped prior to elective surgical and other invasive procedures at least 3 days prior, to reduce bleeding complication risks.

I had always reasioned that since most viruses and bacteria need a specific temperature to reproduce in, and that an increase in temperature relates to an increase in metobolic rate, which could relate to an increased immune response, that a fever is not a bad thing and should be allowed to run its course…atleast that is how it was explained in microbiology and paramedic school.

a quick search found two articles that may support this…


The above appears to be performed by the University of Maryland


This one was performed by Linda B. White, MD, and Sunny Mavor, AHG.
Quick disclaimer – I no longer have access to MDConsult (hate not being a student anymore) so I do not have access to the full texts of these articles, nor do I have any more author information to check validity of reasearch, just throwing them out as ideas.