Fever Treatments May Cause More Flu Deaths

People sick with the flu often take medication to alleviate the accompanying fever. But their relief may come at a price for others: New findings suggest that suppressing fever can result in the infection of tens of thousands of additional people each flu season.

Fever, though unpleasant, can actually be beneficial. The condition can lower the amounts of virus in a sick person’s body, because viruses replicate less efficiently in higher temperatures. Fever can also help immune responses work better.

In a new study, researchers used mathematical models to find the effects of widespread use of medications that suppress fever. They found that in a typical flu season, fever-reducing drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may lead to tens of thousands of additional influenza cases, along with more than a thousand deaths attributable to influenza, across North America.

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