Fever 101—what’s really going on?
If you or one of your children was not feeling well and began to run a fever, what would you do?
If you’re like 96% of the people in our country, you’d probably rush off to the drug store to get some acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), take the proper dose and watch closely until the fever came down.
Unfortunately, lowering a fever with drugs is probably the worst possible thing you can do!
Because contrary to popular belief, a fever is not the demon people think it is. It’s actually an indication that your immune system is kicking in and working to make you better and it shouldn’t be interfered with!
Why to treat a fever naturally is a more logical option:
First of all, if you contract an infection or virus, it means that your immune system wasn’t quite strong enough at that moment to fight it off without it taking hold of you to some degree.
An initial rise in temperature in this case is a sign that your immune system is being challenged and it’s rising up to “accept the challenge”—and your increased temperature allows your immune system to function at a higher level.
You see, as your core temperature rises, it activates certain immune cells (called lymphocytes) that are able to destroy cells infected with viruses (as well as cancerous cells!)
The increase in your temperature also activates neutrophils, which are immune cells that target cells with bacterial infection. Plus the temperature increase also improves enzyme activity in your body to foster an environment that is unfriendly toward the harmful microbes.
Your immune system also knows that harmful microorganisms can only survive within specific temperature ranges....smart huh?
So your immune system turns up your internal furnace just enough to kill off the bad guys and thus drastically reduces their population (and ability to do harm) in your body.
Your body doesn’t want to raise your temperature to the point of killing off its good guys but it will if necessary—that usually happens if it’s in a state of extreme infection. It’s kind of like going to battle—any army in history has known that it will lose some of its soldiers in a battle, but the entire army unites to win the war.
Don’t bother me!
Now that you see exactly what a fever is and know what your immune system is doing behind the scenes, you can have a better understanding as to why it shouldn’t be interfered with by taking pain relievers!
When you run a fever and subsequently pop acetaminophen or ibuprofen, the drugs do quickly lower your temperature, but they also silence your body’s natural defenses and cripple the development of your immune system!
As a result, you end up allowing the invading dangerous organisms to survive inside of you and make you sicker and sicker. So what do you do then? Well, again if you’re like most people, you go to the doctor and report that you’ve had a fever and still aren’t getting any better. And what are you usually given? Antibiotics, of course! This makes the problem even worse—not better.
You see, while the antibiotics may arrest any dangerous bacterial action going on inside of you, they also happen to destroy your friendly intestinal flora—where 70% of your (already weakened) immune system resides! And if your illness is viral? The antibiotics don’t do diddily squat for it, but they still kill off your beneficial gut flora and further weaken your immune system.
Now you’re probably wondering what you should do next time you or someone in your family runs a fever. Well, my friend, Nature always takes care of us, and your immune system is no exception to that.
First of all, fevers are typically self-limiting and short in duration—maybe a day or two. To help your body along during the process and encourage the elimination of dangerous organisms, it’s important to drink lots of water, preferably with fresh squeezed lemon juice to make it more alkaline and help your electrolyte balance.
And of course, rest is essential during this time! When fevers become dangerous is when they get up over 103° and/or last longer than 4 days. At that point you may be risking damage to your vital organs and it’s imperative that you consult your doctor. But even then many times taking a cool bath can be enough to bring your temperature down into a more acceptable range.
Source: adapted from an article from Sherry Brescia