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Potential Risks With Treating Fever In Influenza Infection

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Potential Risks With Treating Fever In Influenza Infection

The potential risks of the treatment of fever in influenza infection have been highlighted in a New Zealand study recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The study, undertaken by researchers at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand and Capital & Coast District Health Board, reviewed all published trials in animals and humans of the effects of treating fever in influenza infection. There were 8 animal studies which, when analysed together, showed that the treatment of fever increased the risk of death in influenza infection by about one third. The increased risk of death was observed in studies of the commonly used fever treatments (known as antipyretics) including paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, suggesting that it was a property common to this class of fever treatments.

Surprisingly there were few informative clinical trials in humans which examined the effectiveness or safety of antipyretics. As a result, there is little evidence by which to assess antipyretic treatments on either the duration or severity of influenza infection in humans.

Dr Kyle Perrin from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand said that "We should not be surprised by these findings as it is known that fever is a protective physiological response and that the influenza virus cannot replicate at the high temperatures observed during the 'flu. It is possible that treating fever allows the influenza virus to replicate at the lower temperatures it prefers".

The authors of the study stressed the urgent need for randomised controlled trials of the treatment of fever in influenza infection to allow the current uncertainty to be resolved and evidence-based recommendations to be made for patients with the 'flu.

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