When a mild fever strikes healthy kids or adults, that small rise in body temperature usually prompts a move towards the medicine cabinet, seeking relief in the form of a pill. But perhaps, this is a reaction that needs to be reconsidered.
The reason to do so comes into focus by first understanding why the body produces a fever in the first place. To that point, it's a self-corrective, physiological response that aids overall human health.
Knowing this, in deciding how to treat a fever, we need a better understanding of: normal human body temperature; what's happening to the immune and circulatory systems; and whether the addition of synthetic compounds (antibiotics, NSAIDS, etc.) could impair the body's natural healing abilities.
Over time, its become an universally-accepted notion that normal body temperature is 98.6Â°F. But delving into the origin of this concept, a look at an 1868 observational study depicts a significant flaw in the methodology, calibration and instrumentation of this theory as compared to what we know today.
A recent study reveals that the normal human body goes through thermal changes throughout the day. Therefore, it's better to acknowledge a 1-degree, oral temperature range between 98.9Â°F (in the morning) to 99.9Â°F (later on), which should be regarded as the ceiling for healthy people up to the age of 40.
Moreover, Dr. Mark Crislip, a respected infectious disease doctor, believes we should only worry about a fever when temperature exceeds 101Â°F.
The JAMA Internal Medicine Journal says that when a fever strikes, "[t]he febrile response is a complex physiologic reaction to disease, involving a cytokine-mediated rise in core temperature, generation of acute phase reactants, and activation of numerous physiologic, endocrinologic, and immunologic systems," according to Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak.
In layman's terms, what that means is that during a state of fever most common bacteriums -- fungi, viruses and other pathogenic microorganisms -- will most likely be unable to withstand the body's natural defense mechanism. Research indicates that once the body is in a heightened state of metabolic, immune-mediated and endocrinologic response, there's no practical or beneficial purpose to chemically reverse these mechanisms.
But this is exactly what's commonly done by ingesting an over-the-counter fever reducer or synthetic compound, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
On PubMed.gov, a National Institute of Health database, more than two dozen, peer-reviewed research articles can be found which show that administering commonly-available drugs during a fever will actually harm the patient, or prolong sickness, as opposed to just letting the body's natural response take place.