Why the allopathic practice of symptom suppression is making you sicker and prolonging illness.
Sadly the allopathic approach underestimates the wisdom of our immune system, instead of embracing the healing process drugs are used to suppress our immune response. We have been gifted this extraordinary body that protects us from pathogenic invasion. To maintain a healthy functioning immune system we need to ensure that we support it both nutritionally and emotionally, providing it with the building blocks that are required for optimal functioning. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones - we must nurture this gift and not suppress the innate defences with pharmaceutical drugs and unnecessary medical intervention.
Parents need to understand the immune response to invading pathogens so they can best protect their children. Simply put, the SYMPTOMS of illness are the body clearing up the infection - the symptoms are the body's normal physiological response to illness; they are the CURE. Embrace this brilliance! These symptoms facilitate the process and accelerate recovery. If we keep suppressing these symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs we disarm our body's army, allowing the invaders to go deeper, resulting in more invasive infections like pneumonia or meningitis.
Our immune system provides us with various tools to combat foreign invaders. Here are a few beneficial symptoms explained:
The prevailing fever-phobia has created a society of hysteria, where parents mindlessly over-medicate their children, yet fever plays a vital biological role in the immune response and this unprecedented fear is interfering with the body's ability to heal itself. The increase in body temperature enhances our fighter cells (leukocytes) and helps eliminate the invading bugs. Unfortunately, it is common practice to alternate antipyretics (drugs that lower the temperature) four to six hourly but there is no evidence to support this recommendation. In fact, it is harmful to repeatedly interfere with the body's response to illness.
This study, (1), concluded that the use of antipyretics and external cooling of ICU patients with sepsis had an adverse impact on mortality. You, as a parent, should fear medicating more than you fear the fever as relentless lowering of a temperature may just push that pathogen deeper, leading to invasive disease like a pneumonia or meningitis. Some of our academic government hospitals are using this evidence based approach and refuse to lower their patients temperature (with certain exceptions like head injuries) as a rise in temperature increases intracranial pressure. Sadly, many of our private institutions hold onto the archaic misconceptions and their first line approach is antipyretic therapy. Healthcare facilities should not be implementing this protocol without the supporting evidence. This careless antipyretic use is the epitome of iatrogenesis.
"The practice of alternating antipyretics has become widespread at home and on paediatric wards without supporting scientific evidence. There is still a significant contrast between the current concept and practice, and the scientific evidence. Fever phobia, an exaggerated fear of fever in their children, is common among parents. Parents have a poor understanding of fever and little or no information about its beneficial role in diseases. As antipyretics do not normalize body temperature or prevent recurrences of fever, parents’ concerns increase, leading to increased use of antipyretics and health services. " (2)
What about a febrile seizure?
This is a sensitive topic as a parents' fear of this benign condition overrides reasonable discussion. A febrile seizure is not directly associated with a high fever. Ninety five percent of children tolerate high fevers without experiencing a febrile seizure and often the febrile seizure is triggered at lower temperatures. The small risk of a febrile seizure has lead to this unnecessary fever phobia and this uncontrollable terror justifies one's overuse and abuse of antipyretics. Many healthcare providers insist on a prophylactic approach where antipyretic therapy is required if a child has a history of febrile seizures, yet there is no evidence to suggest that this protocol will prevent subsequent episodes ;
"Several randomized, placebo-controlled trials on children at risk of Febrile seizure (FS) found no evidence that the antipyretic paracetamol or ibuprofen, with or without diazepam, was effective in preventing FS during subsequent febrile episodes. Furthermore, numerous studies show that a temperature > 40 °C is associated with decreased incidence of recurrence while children who develop seizures with lower degrees of fever have lower seizure threshold and therefore high recurrence rate of FS. Thus, a high temperature at the onset of FS is a useful predictor of non-recurrence. Furthermore, a Cochrane review concluded that the evidence that paracetamol has a superior effect than placebo is insufficient."(2)
The best way to manage a fever is to keep the child's temperature even and avoid under-dressing or over-dressing. Do not put them in a cool or lukewarm bath and do not undress them in front of a fan or air conditioning. Make sure you offer plenty of fluids, or breast milk, and always remember that small babies are at greater risk of dehydration, so if you are concerned contact your healthcare provider. As a last note, one should not confuse fever with hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is a very dangerous situation that follows something like a drug overdose or heatstroke and immediate medical intervention is required.
Fever per se is self-limiting and rarely serious provided that the cause is known and fluid loss is replaced. With fever, unlike hyperthermia, body temperature is well regulated by a hypothalamic set-point that balances heat production and heat loss so effectively that the temperature does not climb up relentlessly and does not exceed an upper limit of 42 °C. Within this upper range, 40 °C to 42 °C, there is no evidence that the fever is injurious to tissue. About 20 percent of children seen in the emergency room have temperatures over 40 °C but they usually have a full recovery. If there is morbidity or mortality, it is due to the underlying disease. The associated fever may well be protective. Fever exerts an overall adverse effect on the growth of bacteria and on replication of viruses. It also enhances immunological processes. The mobility, phagocytosis and killing of bacteria by leukocytes are significantly greater at temperatures above 40 °C. Elevated temperatures of 38 °C and 39 °C have a direct positive effect on lymphocyte transformation. (2)
Inflammation is a part of the immune response, if you cut yourself and debris gets into the cut your body initiates healing through inflammation by increasing blood circulation and mobilizing our fighter cells and transporting them to the site of infection. The white blood cells and the chemicals that they produce play a pivotal immunological role and the inflammatory molecules create pathways that trigger a cascade of events that are integral to the healing process. The area appears tender and painful to touch as the inflammation exerts pressure on the surrounding nerves, triggering a pain response in the brain. By administering anti-inflammatory drugs it may relieve the pain, but it stops the inflammation and prevents the body from effectively clearing the infection. In severe situations anti-inflammatory drugs may offer much needed temporary relief, but we need to be aware of the drugs ability to impede healing and use them sparingly.
SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES
The swelling of our lymph nodes is an important part of the immune response, the process mobilizes our immune fighting cells and as the lymphatic fluid flows through the nodes they filter out the invading pathogens.
LOSS OF APPETITE
When we are ill the body tries to conserve this energy so all reserves can be redirected to fighting the invader. Digestion uses up a lot of our energy and we lose our appetite so we can focus on the invader. In 2016 an article was published in the journal of Autophagy (3) . Researchers found that temporary fasting during illness leads to an increased cellular autophagy. Autophagy is the natural regenerative process where the body recycles its own tissue as a metabolic process. Through this process the body cleans up and recycles old cellular components and regenerates newer ones. When cells are starved of nutrients through fasting they are forced to upregulate this autophagy, and at the same time invading pathogens are also broken down. This means our regular cells also help play a role in the fight against the invaders.
Many parents are alarmed when their children are tired and just want to rest during illness, but think about how you feel as an adult when you are sick - all we want to do is lie down and possibly sleep. There is a physiological reason for this - it is called cytokine-induced sickness behavior (4). The brain recognizes cytokines (chemical messengers that are released during illness) as an indication of illness and changes occur which lead to these behavioral patterns. The subsequent malaise, fatigue or exhaustion is an inherent biological organized strategy for the body to fight infection. We are forced to rest so the body conserves its energy, saving its reserves for the fight ahead.
VOMITING / DIARRHEA
Bacterial, viral or parasitic pathogens may lead to gastrointestinal conditions. Other causes range from food sensitivity or food poisoning to drug reactions or underlying diseases. In most cases the body's attempt to purge the gastrointestinal contents is a deliberate strategy for survival as it promotes the clearance of pathogens. A study published in cell host and microbe (5) found that our innate immune activation of diarrhea promotes pathogen clearance. Immune cells are capable of migrating to the intestinal wall and trigger a chain of events that lead to increased intestinal permeability whereby water (and other molecules) flush through the openings pushing out the invaders via the gastrointestinal tract . The study suggests that by suppressing the diarrhea with pharmaceutical medication one interferes with the natural response, delaying pathogen clearance and prolonging disease.
Please note that dehydration can be life threatening and babies are at far greater risk. It is therefore essential that you have your child checked out by a healthcare professional and find out if intravenous fluid replacement is required. You can decline unnecessary medication, but a simple intravenous line can save a life.
This is a most under-appreciated symptom that does not get the credit it deserves. This is our front line of defence that contains our fighter cells - the white blood cells. The thick consistency helps trap unwanted microorganisms in our environment, preventing them from entering the body and adhering to the internal surfaces. It helps expel the invaders through the flow of mucus, which is driven by the movement of those small hairs that line the mucosal surface called cilia. When we are fighting an invader the white blood cells in these secretions produce an enzyme that contains iron, this is what gives it the greenish colour and as it becomes more concentrated the colour may darken. The colour of nasal discharge does not determine the cause of infection (bacterial or viral) and this change in colour should never justify the use of antibiotics. It should be clear that if one tries to dry up these secretions with drugs we disarm our front line and open the door for the microorganisms to walk right in.
The skin is our largest elimination organ and it plays a vital role within our excretory system, flushing out toxins from the body. It removes large amounts of waste daily and rashes of the skin provide us with clues about the health of the internal organs. Skin is actively involved in the detox pathways and the blood and lymphatic system remove waste via the skin in the form of a rash during illness. This rash is toxin elimination and these skin conditions should be regarded as a productive step in disease elimination, skin diseases should be viewed as outer reflections of internal conditions and suppressing this process with pharmaceutical drugs block the body's detoxification process.
Parents and healthcare providers are quick to use drugs to suppress these immune responses, yet these symptoms are a part of the healing process. By interfering and suppressing the symptoms we allow the disease to go deeper, prolonging healing and potentially leading to more invasive disease and complications. The fear that many hold for the innocuous fever should be the fear held for unnecessary medication, because it is the pharmaceutical intervention that may cause harm - the severity of harm merely depends on one's immune system at the time of infection.
The result of such interference could be minor (such as prolonging illness) or severe (leading to an invasive condition like life-threatening bacterial meningitis). We need to take responsibility for our health and understand the serious implications of careless pharmaceutical intervention.