on Jan 14, 2010

When you’re sick, a fever is actually good for you. This adaptive mechanism works by increasing the body temperature to a level that’s inhospitable to whatever pathogen is making you sick. Oddly enough, many over-the-counter medicines, as such Tylenol, are fever-reducers. ¬†While the medicine makes one feel better, it actually extends the length of illness. The existence of such medicine gives the false impression that a fever is a bad thing. Yes, the presence of a fever does mean that one may be ill, but it also indicates that the body is naturally responding to the illness in a positive way.

However, we still have these medicines on the market. They are potentially misleading because they offer relief from the symptoms of illness (which they do) but they do little, or may even work against, real recovery. Unfortunately, for the public, it isn’t in the interests of drug companies to advertise the true nature of their product. Perhaps the government, which is supposed to represent the interests of the population, should be involved in such matters.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that these drugs should be banned or taken off the market. However, I do believe that anyone that considers these products be aware of their true consequences, negative and positive, to make a realistic decision. Some people may be willing to pay the cost of extended illness if they really want their illness symptoms out of the way for some important moment. That’s their decision to make and it should be an informed one rather that a misled one. Recent medical advice is consistent with the science as it states to “let the fever run its course.” ¬†Perhaps there is hope in attaining greater transparency on drugs.

What are your thoughts on these over-the-counter drugs and do you use them?