By Kennedy Shelley
Why is the World Health Organization warning you not to take Aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroid fever reducers if you get coronavirus?
This is an important warning that everyone should heed.
It really comes down to understanding how your body fights an infection.
The initial warning came from the French who brought up the concern about possible liver damage from taking too much of the family of drugs known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
The World Health Organization (WHO) agreed with the recommendation in a tweet the next day.
WHO said that anti-inflammatory drugs were not the best drug to fight fever but did give a green light to drugs like Tylenol which isn’t anti-inflammatory?
But should anyone take fever-reducing medicine if their temperature is under 107 degrees? This has been a matter of some dispute, but let’s look at how your body creates a fever and why.
Your body is remarkable at temperature control. If you get cold, it constricts blood vessels, seals up the pores causing hair to stand up and will start involuntary shivering to get motion to build up heat in the muscles.
If you get too hot, it causes you to sweat and causes the muscles to slow down.
These are involuntary responses to increase or decrease your core body temperature controlled by the hypothalamus.
Now, why does it increase your temperature to fight an infection?
Because your body fights infection better when your core body temperature is higher. This means when you lower your temperature by taking Tylenol, you are actually hurting your body’s infection-fighting actions.
For some reason, we think a fever is a bad thing, but it is actually the best way to stop bacterial and viral infections.
WHY YOU GET A FEVER
Let’s use a virus as an example. A virus has to invade a cell to reproduce.
After reproduction, it spreads to another cell and so on. The body does several remarkable things at the cellular level to make it stop.
Once it depletes affected cells of the proteins the virus needs to reproduce because an infected cell warns other cells around it.
White blood cells move toward the affected area to quarantine the roaming viruses.
And this process works best when your core temperature is 102 degrees or so, so the hypothalamus makes you shiver, makes you think you are cold so you put on blankets, go to warmth, the involuntary shivering starts, and blood vessels constrict. And your temperature increases.
And this takes a great deal of energy.
For every one degree increase in body temperature, you use 10% more energy.
The body is not going to waste that much fuel unless it was for a good cause.
YOU MESS IT UP
Then you take something to bring down your temperature. You feel better for a few hours, but you messed up your best weapon against the virus.
The journal Lung reported that when you reduce fever not only do you make an infection go on longer, and it ends up killing more people and creates more complications and makes you feel worse longer.
In short, it is better to tough it out and not reduce a fever. It’s not a macho thing, it is the natural thing to do.
There are two major exceptions: septic infections which have to be treated at the hospital and fever over 107.6 (which are exceedingly rare).
Ask your doctor, why you need to be sick longer if he suggests fever-reducing drugs.