Home Common Sense about Fevers


WARNING: Heretical idea alert!  I'm not a physician, just an experienced patient.

America has done a remarkable job eradicating febrile illnesses, thanks mainly to vaccination and other (humane) public health measures.  Fevers had been unusual for decades, and, until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, were mainly experienced by those with significant health problems.  I've had only two pre-COVID febrile illnesses in the last 30-odd years (since flu shots first became available to the general public), and both had clearly understood origins, both from the flu: I caught the first from someone returning from Europe one September, and the other during a year that the federal government announced that the flu vaccine missed a strain.  It seems pretty straightforward: if you're a person in normal health who is properly vaccinated, any fever that you get these days is almost certainly caused by COVID-19.  But the data-gathering isn't taking this into consideration, and I hope there aren't a bunch of febrile individuals waiting in cars to be tested for COVID instead of resting in bed at home!

But there's a very big downside to this success in reduction of febrile illnesses, unfortunately: we've forgotten how to treat fevers caused by common viruses.  I know from my own experience (and this is echoed by some friends) that the key to getting over a fever is to get warm; chills are nature's way of motivating us to do that.  The body's natural defenses need heat to perform duties such as creating antibodies.  So when I get a fever, I dress in wool from head to toe and get under the covers, preferably a heavy blanket or comforter.  Of course, I drink plenty of water or soup (hot is best), but avoid anything that suppresses the immune system like the plague!  Pain can be a problem, but is best handled by just getting better as soon as possible.  These luxuries, however, aren't available to hospital patients, to judge from the images I see online, a typical COVID-19 patient in America or western Europe is wearing a hospital gown and is covered by a single sheet.  Nursing home patients have the option of bringing warm attire and blankets from home, but if they don't, would they be provided with these? 

Joe and Terry Graedon, of The People's Pharmacy (2023), have taken up this issue, pointing out that undue fear of fevers seems to have come about as anti-pyretic drugs such as aspirin came on the market.


Graedon J & Graedon T (2023) Should You Lower a Fever or Leave It Alone? Retrieved 27 Jun 2024 from https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/should-you-lower-a-fever-or-leave-it-alone

Wrotek S, LeGrand EK, Dzialuk A, Alcock J. Let fever do its job: The meaning of fever in the pandemic era. Evol Med Public Health. 2020 Nov 23;9(1):26-35. doi: 10.1093/emph/eoaa044. PMID: 33738101; PMCID: PMC7717216. Retrieved 27 Jun 2024 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7717216/

Copyright © 2022-2024 by Dorothy E. Pugh.  All rights reserved.