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Fever can help the immune system, so what should we do if we have one?

 

Fever is a pain, quite literally, but new evidence hints at its purpose. Here’s what you need to know

HEALTH 8 April 2020

For a mild fever, rest and plenty of fluids can help

Science Photo Library/Alamy

AS NEWS about coronavirus spread around the world, paracetamol soon began to disappear from shop shelves as people stocked up at home. In some places, the price of the drug shot up. That probably comes as little surprise given that one of the key symptoms of the infection is a fever.

We tend to routinely use drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to try to bring down a high temperature, believing fever to be, at best, a passive and unwelcome bystander to infection and, at worst, a direct contributor to our illness. Yet mounting evidence suggests that fever may, in fact, be a strategy the body uses to ramp up its defences. This new understanding of what is going on when we are burning up could help us come up with better approaches to fighting infection altogether

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