A research conducted by the University of Alberta on fish suggested that waiting before reaching for medications may be beneficial for humans. Letting the mild fever run its course helped the fish clear their bodies of infection rapidly (within 7 days) with controlled inflammation and repairing of damaged tissues. Since the mechanisms driving and sustaining fever are shared among animals, researchers deemed it reasonable to expect similar benefits to happen in humans.
This means that moderate fever is self-resolving; the body can both induce and shut down naturally without the need for medication. Giving way to the benefits of this biological response to infection includes resisting reaching for over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, at the first signs of mild temperature.
In the experiment, fish were given a bacterial infection. Their behavior was tracked and evaluated using machine learning. Outward symptoms were comparable to those observed in humans with fever, including immobility, malaise and fatigue. These were then matched to important immune mechanisms inside the animals.
Natural fever serves as an integrative response - it helps in activating defenses and controlling infection. The research team’s next goal is to leverage these findings on other medical advances while continuing to harness the benefits from the natural mechanisms of our immunity.