How Flu Remedies HELP The Virus Breed Faster (And Spread More Easily To Other People)

Published on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 22:57
Pic from from and flu remedies may make you feel better but your friends and colleagues won’t thank you for taking them.

Scientists say that while aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen make the person taking them feel better by lowering their temperature, they may also make the bug easier to spread.

As a result, more people will catch it.

The Canadian researchers calculated that tablets taken to ease the sweats and chills of flu are to blame for at least one in 20 cases of the illness – and many deaths.

They say that rather than taking pills to lower their temperature, people with flu should stay at home, get plenty of rest and have some hearty soup.

However, British experts questioned their sums.

The researchers, from McMaster University in Ontario, first gathered together studies on the biology of flu.

This included one which showed that ferrets release more of the flu virus and are infectious for longer after being given drugs to lower their temperature.

It is thought that the high temperature of a fever triggers the immune system into fighting the infection.

Without it, the amount of the flu virus in coughs and sneezes increases, making it easier for the bug to spread.

Although ferrets may seem an odd choice of animal to study, their flu symptoms are most similar to those in people.

The researchers then added in figures on use of paracetamol and other drugs to estimate how much they affect the spread of flu.
They calculated that in a typical winter in North America, the pills are to blame for 5 per cent of cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

If same held true for the UK, it would equate to some 200 deaths a year.

Lead researcher, David Earn, said: ‘When they have flu, people often take medication that reduces their fever.
‘No one likes to feel miserable but it turns out that our comfort might be at the cost of infecting others.

‘Because fever can actually help lower the amount of virus in a sick person’s body and reduce the chance of transmitting the disease to others, taking drugs that can reduce fever can increase transmission.

‘We’ve discovered that this increase has significant effects when we scale up to the level of the whole population.’

The journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports that factoring in the impact of people who take the medicines feeling well enough to go back to work means the impact is likely even greater.

Professor Earn said: ‘People often take – or give their kids – fever-reducing drugs so they can go to work or school.

‘They may think the risk of infecting others is lower because the fever is lower.

‘In fact, the opposite may be true: the ill people may give off more virus because fever has been reduced.’

Co-researcher Dr Paul Andrews said the same could be true when the pills are used to ease the symptoms of a heavy cold.

He said: ‘Don’t take anti-fever drugs; stay home and avoid contact with others; get plenty of rest and eat chicken noodle soup.’

David Price, professor of family medicine at McMaster, said: ‘As always, Mother Nature knows best.

‘Fever is a defence mechanism to protect ourselves and others.

‘Fever-reducing medication should only be taken to take the edge off discomfort, not to allow people to go out into the community when they should still stay at home.

‘People are often advised to take fever-reducing drugs and medical texts state that doing so is harmless.

‘This view needs to change.’

However, British experts said that while the Canadians may have a theoretical point, the spread of flu is much more complex than their calculations allowed for.

Professor Ian Jones, a Reading University flu expert, said: ‘This may be one factor that influences influenza spread but there are so many factors overall it is difficult to imagine people stopping taking cold cures because of it.’



-Daily Mail

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