Fever: Bane or Boon?

©Copyright 2013 by Robert Chuckrow

In the early 1970s, my mother phoned me and said, “I’m worried about dad—he has 102 fever and won’t take anything to bring it down.” I replied, “that’s pretty good for someone in his eighties; dead people don’t run fevers.” At that point, my father got on the phone and said, “Son, don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay.”

A few weeks later, I was visiting my parents and observed that my father looked ten years younger than the last time I was there. When I told my father my observation, he replied, “I know, I really feel great.”

I started thinking and decided that maybe the fever running its course was the reason. I resolved that next time I have a fever, I will let it run its course and not take any aspirin (the standard fever remedy at that time).

About a year later, I ran a pretty high fever and was bedridden. Remembering my resolution, I took nothing. After several days, the fever persisted, and I became discouraged. I decided to take two aspirin. I soon felt better, and my temperature went down to normal. I got out of bed, got dressed, and went outside. A few hours later, the aspirin wore off, and I was back in bed with a fever and had learned my lesson. A day or so later, my fever broke, and I felt wonderful—as though I had a new lease on life. To this day, I willingly let fevers run their course, and I also fast (read about therapeutic fasting) whenever I have a fever.

Over the years since first letting a fever run its course, I have read much about the logic behind that philosophy. The basic idea is that running a fever is how the body recovers from a bacterial or viral infiltration, and suppressing a fever thwarts the body’s efforts to recover. Much of the ill effects of pathogens that enter the body and reproduce result mainly from the toxins they produce. So recovery involves two types of actions; (1) an increased activity of the immune system to attack and kill the pathogens and (2) an increased activity of the eliminative system to metabolize and excrete the toxins. The increase in both of these activities involves and is accompanied by an increase in bodily temperature, which enables biological rates to increase.

From my experience over the decades, I am convinced that, whereas suppressing a fever makes you feel good in the short run, it prevents your body from a full recovery, resulting in chronic health problems in the long run.

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