Flu Medicines Can Increase Spread of the Virus

Friday, January 24, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Gemma Tarlach
DiscoverMagazine.com
January 22, 2014

Got the flu? Think twice before you pop a pill to feel better.

Most over-the-counter flu medications include a fever-reducing ingredient such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. But suppressing fever, according to new research, actually increases the number of seasonal flu cases by at least 5 percent in the U.S., and could cause as many as 1,000 additional deaths from influenza nationally each year.

Fever Defense

Fever acts as a kind of defense mechanism for our bodies. The normal human temperature creates a cozy environment perfect for many microbes, including the influenza family of viruses, to live and replicate. As our body temperature rises with a fever, however, the viruses replicate less efficiently. Fewer viruses in the body mean a lower risk of transmitting the pathogen to other people.

Reducing a fever has the opposite effect, allowing the virus to replicate freely and possibly for a longer period, which increases the risk of infecting others. But that’s only half the story: Since the infected person probably feels better (or at least a little less miserable), he’s more likely to go to work or school, coming into contact with many more people.

Flu Transmission

The rest…HERE

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