Fever: Hands off the Thermostat

15. October 2010
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ASS, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol – from small child until you’re adult, the motto is: Lowering the fever can save lives. But exactly that – as British physicians now describe - could be a fallacy and they recommend physicians the application of pyrotherapy.

For more than thirty years, Clark Blatteis, physician and researcher at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis/USA fights with fever. But what he postulates now as the result of his work, might come as a big surprise to physicians worldwide. Man and fish resemble in one point more than many want to believe: Both life forms of the blue planet use fever to defend themselves against attacks to their organism and win over infections.

At the same time fish, other than their human counterparts, don’t use ASS, Paracetamol or any other remedy to lower the fever – in fact they use the power of the evolution related biochemical temperature machine. Blatteis’ enthusiasm for the hot inside all living did not come by accident. Slowly – although still hesitantly – the opinion increasingly gained ground in medicine that fever rather helps than damages a person. Although it is known for a long time, that higher body temperatures activate the T-lymphocytes but until now it did not seem to be an adequate tool to allow body-own fever up to 40° Celsius as a targeted therapy against life-threatening infections.

Expose patients to high fever during the early stage

Exactly that is now to change. A study published in January 2010 by Garth Dixon at the University College London caused a stir. The microbiologist had examined the influence of human body temperature on the dreaded pathogen Neisseria meningitidis B., although only in the lab. In those blood samples kept at a temperature of 40° Celsius, the concentration of the life-threatening germ reduced by 90 percent compared to their counterparts living in regular temperatures. The results were impressive enough for the Peer Reviewed British Medical Journal (BMJ) to publish the statement of the London microbiologist: As Dixon demands time and again, patients should – especially in the early stage of an infection – be exposed to high fever in order to decimate the bacteria population in a natural way. Only one month after Dixon, the BMJ stocked up and delivered one of the worldwide first studies targeting at the phenomenon fever under a therapeutic point of view. 400 patients’ data after all – that’s how many Gavin Barlow at the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust looked at, all of the patients suffering from pneumonia. The figures of the analysis speak for themselves: While more than a third of the patients with their body temperature kept below 36 degrees died within 30 days from start of the disease, more than 82 percent of the patients with increased body temperature survived. But the sensation came with 40 degrees Celsius: In this group all patients survived the pneumonia.

But you should take into consideration that especially older people have a generally lower temperature and perhaps might have died anyways even without the pneumonia, explains Barlow, but he expresses that he is impressed “with the magnitude of the effect”. Randomized studies would be the tool to clear such uncertainties but until now there was only one made – and this one has a lot to offer. Already in 2005, physicians at the University of Miami wanted to find out whether patients treated with medication to lower the temperature are really treated better. In order to find that out, they separated 82 ICU patients in two groups, one group was going without any drugs, the second receiving the regular medications to lower the fever. “We had seven death cases in the standard therapy group and only one in the other where the fever was ‘allowed’, as the head of the study Carl Schulman explained the reason for cancelling the study.But you should take into consideration that especially older people have a generally lower temperature and perhaps might have died anyways even without the pneumonia, explains Barlow, but he expresses that he is impressed “with the magnitude of the effect”. Randomized studies would be the tool to clear such uncertainties but until now there was only one made – and this one has a lot to offer. Already in 2005, physicians at the University of Miami wanted to find out whether patients treated with medication to lower the temperature are really treated better. In order to find that out, they separated 82 ICU patients in two groups, one group was going without any drugs, the second receiving the regular medications to lower the fever. “We had seven death cases in the standard therapy group and only one in the other where the fever was ‘allowed’, as the head of the study Carl Schulman explained the reason for cancelling the study.

“Fever-down-doctrine”

Countries like Great Britain reacted regarding the treatment of children and at least agreed on their recommendations for fever as a therapy tool for several years now. Here at home in Germany, still the old “fever-down-doctrine” applies as a look at the recommendations of TK Online (website of a German health insurance company) in cases of pharyngitis demonstrates exemplarily: “In case of a high fever the patient should take drugs to lower the temperature.” Even the RKI-Ratgeber Infektionskrankheiten – Merkblätter für Ärzte (infectious diseases treatment advisor for physicians) up-dated in 2010 does not get by the classic recommendations of the past yet: The experts in Berlin still rely on drugs to lower the fever in cases of measles coming along with complications.

Nonetheless there is valid reason for hope – because at least occasionally the revelation sprouts that lowering the fever might not necessarily make sense. We are still far away from the American and British lines of thinking here at home – but there are progresses. A patients’ health guide created by physicians at the oldest German private university Witten/Herdecke, gets to the heart of drugs lowering fever used for children: “Even if many parents have made good experience with using those remedies for their children, there aren’t any studies available clearly proving the effectiveness statistically.

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Heilpraktikerin Elinor Robinow
Heilpraktikerin Elinor Robinow

Wir Heilpraktiker wissen seit Langem, dass die Natur Fieber einsetzt um den “Agressor” zu bekaempfen. Besteht Convulsions Gafahr, feuchte Tuecher – in lauwarmes Essig Wasser getaucht – und um die Waden gewickelt, senken die Temperatur um ca. 1º – 1 1/2º. Dieses Vorgehen beeinflusst den nuetzlichen Fieber Prozess nur minimal.

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