Is Fever the Best Antibiotic for a Prepper’s Medical Kit?

Treating Fever

Fever is Natures Oldest Antibiotic

I have seen the strangest protocols used in hospitals. One involving medical or health care workers removing the blankets of patents with fever comes to mind. This is ridiculous. Fever is your friend – until it gets to high. It’s natures built-in antibiotic, and the only one likely to be widely available in a global disaster. In this post we’ll discuss why you might want to think twice about treating fever, and when it is too high and must be dealt with.

Fever

Cytokines – Chemical Messengers and Immune System Activators  

Our immune system has its own intranet. It’s a way to call for help using chemical messengers:

Fever WBC Activation

For instance, when an immune system cell is out on patrol and runs into an invading bacteria or virus, it can release a series of chemical messengers called cytokines and chemokines to call for help. Receiving the message, helpful cells in distant sites of the body rush to the infection and release chemical warfare on the unsuspecting invader. Known by names like “Interleukin” (IL-#) and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), these cytokines not only recruit help, but also directly attach the pathogen. Some induce fever as well. This is critically important, because the higher the body temperature, the more robust the recruitment and attack process. In fact, at higher temperatures, nearly every enzyme involved in the process becomes more active and effective.  But only to a point.

Notice How the Curve Flattens at 104 F or 40 C

Fever and Cytokine Curve

Some people think that fever is any elevation in body temperature above 98.6 F, or 37 C. But in the medical world the definition is strict, and 100.4 is the magic number. The immune system functions most efficiently between 100.4 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Above 104 F, fever is counter productive and should be treated.

Similarly, if body temperature drops below normal, the immune system functions way below peak performance. So you really don’t want to remove a persons blanket to treat a fever unless it’s approaching 104-105:

Hypothermia and Immune Function

In a doctor’s office it’s nearly impossible to convince a mother she should not aggressively treat fever in her sick child. At the first sign of feeling warm, children everywhere are relentlessly dosed with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. And while the child may get relief from some of their symptoms with this approach, it renders the immune system far less effective than it normally would be.

I recommend a thermometer for every medical kit – because if you choose not to treat fever, you’d still like to know when it is about to reach 104-105 degrees. Recall that’s where the curve drops off, and the point you’d want to treat anyway. It’s best to go old school with a oral thermometer, and then have a non-contact option if you will be working with sick people outside your group.

For the oral thermometer that I recommend, click the picture below and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Old School ThermometerFor pandemics like Ebola, or any other infectious disease you’ll want a non-contact device:

For the non-contact thermometer that I recommend, click the picture below

No Touch Thermometer for Fever

 

You know we could not end this post without having mentioned Rectal Temperatures to monitor fever in babies. This video shows you how and when:

Take Home Message:  Try not to treat a fever with Tylenol, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen unless you have to.  The body naturally wants to warm itself when fighting an infection.  Increasing core temperature aids the immune system in killing the invading bacteria. Nowadays, many doctors don’t treat fevers unless they’re causing discomfort.  This general rule holds true until the person’s temperatures reaches 104 or more.  Then they’ll treat.  But for a run of the mill infection, like the common cold, don’t treat the fever if you can help it.  It’s Nature’s built-in antibiotic, and she’s had phenomenal success with it in the past – despite our “common sense” view to the contrary.

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