Doctors are trained to bring down a fever as quickly as possible—but new research has found that drugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol increase the rate of flu by 5 per cent, and cause an additional thousand deaths each year in North America alone.

Fever is the body’s natural defence mechanism against flu and colds. It protects us, and reduces the risk to others, says David Earn, at McMaster University in Canada.

It isn’t just doctors who want to bring down fevers. We do as well, as sales of drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol demonstrate. But all that the drugs do is interfere with the body’s natural processes, and they could be causing tens of thousands of extra cases of flu cases, and even deaths. Suppressing fever increases the number of annual flu cases by around 5 per cent, Earn estimates, and leads to around a thousand additional deaths from flu every year in North America.

(Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2014; 281: 1778 20132570)
(Image: Courtesy of Keerati at