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Anti-Fever Drugs May Prolong Flu
The use of anti-fever drugs such as aspirin and acetaminophen may prolong influenza A and possibly other viral infections, according to researchers at the University of Maryland schools of medicine and pharmacy. In a series of vaccine studies conducted between 1978 and 1987 at the University's Center for Vaccine Development:
- 54 volunteers were injected with Influenza A
- 45 with S. sonnei
- 21 with R. rickettsii
During these studies, some of the subjects were given aspirin or acetaminophen (paracetamol) for relief of symptoms such as fever.
The current study compared the duration of illness in those who received the medication with those who did not and found that flu sufferers who took one of the anti-fever medications were sick an average of 3.5 days longer than people who did not take either of the drugs. On average, flu symptoms lasted 5.3 days in participants who did not take aspirin or acetaminophen, compared with 8.8 days in people who took the anti-fever drugs.
"The analysis suggests that anti-fever therapy prolonged illness in subjects infected with Influenza A, but not shigellosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever," says Philip A. Mackowiak, MD, one of the study's principal investigators and chief of the Medical Care Clinical Center, V.A. Maryland Health Care System and professor at the School of Medicine.
"Our research suggests that fever may have different roles in the resolution of bacterial and viral infections," says Karen I. Plaisance, PharmD, associate professor at the School of Pharmacy, the study's other lead investigator. Dr.Plaisance noted that similar findings have been reported in studies of chickenpox. She also noted that the findings are based on studies conducted in the past, but that they hope to conduct studies in the future in which people with flu symptoms are randomly assigned to receive anti-fever medication or an inactive placebo."The good news is that anti-fever drugs make people feel better when they have infections. The bad news is that they may cause the illness to linger longer," says Dr. Mackowiak, adding that people "should be aware that anti-fever drugs have a modest cost associated with relief and that cost is that they may be sick longer."
Pharmacotherapy, December 2000; 20: 1417-1422
Looking at Alternatives
In all of my reading on the flu this season there appeared to be one logical conclusion: keep yourself healthy and avoid it in the first place.
Basic Guidelines for Prevention
Adequate rest and relaxation, decreasing stress overload, eating good whole foods (no sugar, white flours and dairy), increasing water intake,adding body movement, getting regular spinal adjustments.
For treatment, there are the old stand bys: more fluids, salty broths (miso soup is great), more rest. There are generic homeopathic remedies, constitutional remedies and the use of nosodes (influenzinum 30C) are common homeopathic recommendations.
Here are four simple herbs recommended by Ronald J. Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O that will help strengthen your immune system and protect you against colds and the flu. Each of the following herbs are medically documented and have stood the test of time.
Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs in the world. It has the unique ability to stimulate the immune system. Echinacea is also reported to fight against bacteria, fungi, and viruses associated colds and the flu.
Goldenseal was initially used by Native Americans and gained popularity from the 1850s to the 1940s. Most of the current use of goldenseal is for colds and influenza.
Elder has been used traditionally in the prevention and treatment of colds, influenza, chronic nasal inflammation, and sinusitis. The herb elder has been reported to stop several strains of flu virus from duplicating. In one study using a liquid extract of elder berry, 90 percent of the individuals with symptoms of influenza B were asymptomatic in 2-3 days, while individuals on placebo did not recover for at least 6 days.
Astragalus has been valued by the Chinese for centuries for its immune-enhancing properties. Studies have reported that astragalus promotes healthy growth of cells damaged in the lungs after a viral infection. This potential benefit could help with the lingering phase of bronchial weakness as seen in some individuals with colds and influenza. Astragalus not only has been found to improve resistance to colds but may also decrease how long you stay sick.
In addition to the more well known products, I recently came across a ‘home remedy” on Mercola.com that I had not heard of before: hydrogen peroxide drops in the ear. It appears safe (so long as the peroxide is not swallowed or does not get into the eyes or is not used to frequently where it may dry out the ears)
Along with numerous testimonials from satisfied peroxide users, Mercola’s site had this to say, “From what we have read, hydrogen peroxide works quite well and is supposed to be effective 80% of the time, especially if done when the symptoms first appear. While it seems contrary to what we have been taught about colds and flu we know quite a few people who have tried it with great success.”
“In 1928 Richard Simmons, M.D. hypothesized that colds and flu virus enter through the ear canal. His findings were dismissed by the medical community. According to Dr. Simmons, contrary to what you may think or have been taught about how you catch the flu or the cold there is only one way that you can catch the two, and that's via the ear canal not through the eyes or nose or mouth as most have believed.”
“In 1938 German researchers had great success using hydrogen peroxide in dealing with colds and the flu. Their data has been ignored for over 60 years.
“It is important to begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear. If treatment is started promptly effectiveness seems to be in the 80% range.
“We have found remarkable results in curing the flu & cold within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) into each infected ear, (sometimes only one ear is infected) The H2O2 starts working within 2 to 3 minutes in killing the flu or cold; there will be some bubbling and in some cases mild stinging occurs.
“Wait until the bubbling & stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 min) then drain onto tissue and repeat other ear. A bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in 3% solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars.
Although this method is perfectly safe for infant/children to use, the loud bubbling and stinging frightens them, they'll need someone they trust to put the hp in their ears. (don't get h2o2 in the eyes- if you do, flush with water).
Both Ronald J. Grisanti D.C and Joseph Mercola, DO contributed to the information above. The each have weekly e-mail newsletters with natural health suggestions. References and links to their sites are on the icpa site under newsletters.