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Show 889: Fever and the Immune System

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What is the link between fever and the immune system? Learn why the traditional advice to encourage fever until it breaks might be on target.

How do you handle the fever of flu? Many people turn to OTC flu remedies for symptom relief, but nearly all of them contain a fever reducing medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. While these may help you feel better temporarily, such medicines may prolong the infection or help it spread.

The Benefits of Fever:

A century ago, before aspirin became popular, the old wives held to the idea of piling on quilts and blankets to sweat a fever out. New research on the biological effects of fever suggests they may have had the right idea after all. What is the story on fever and the immune system?

Fever for C Diff:

Influenza isn't the only infection that is getting media attention. The incredible rise in gastrointestinal illness caused by C diff (Clostridium difficile) has caused a great deal of suffering. It can be extremely hard to treat. Now The New England Journal of Medicine has published a study of an unusual treatment.

We welcome listener questions and stories about how they deal with fevers and their favorite approaches to staying healthy.

This Week's Guests:

Matthew Kluger, PhD, MBA, is a professor in the Department of Health Administration and Policy (College of Health and Human Services) with an adjunct appointment in the School of Management, George Mason University. His landmark research on fever was published in 1974 in Nature. He is the author of Fever: Its Biology, Evolution, and Function. (Princeton University Press, October 1979)

Sharon Evans, PhD, is a cancer research scientist in the department of immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

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