You can’t beat the flu, but you can make it more tolerable

When friends or family get sick, they sometimes ask me if it’s beneficial to let a fever run its course. No, it’s not. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). You’ll be more comfortable and will get better just as quickly.

On that note, there was a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine testing whether letting a fever run its course had any benefit in critically ill patients (hospitalized in the ICU with infections). Patients were given either acetaminophen or placebo every six hours until the fever abated in this well-run, 700 patient trial. The results showed the number of days spent in the ICU was effectively the same, as was mortality (about 16% in this group of very sick patients).

Bottom line – hopefully you won’t get the flu this winter, but if you do, don’t suffer with a fever more than you need. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It won’t make the flu pass any faster, but it might make it a bit more tolerable.

Source: Acetaminophen for Fever in Critically Ill Patients with Suspected Infection (New England Journal of Medicine)


Print Friendly

1 comment for “You can’t beat the flu, but you can make it more tolerable

  1. julia
    December 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Shouldn’t viral and bacterial infections be looked at separately?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *