You've heard it before â€“ stuff a cold and starve a fever â€“ but is this sound medical advice? Where did this bizarre treatment method come from anyway and what really happens to your body when you starve a fever? Take this quiz and learn about the effects of starving a fever.
Fasting as a method of treatment for a fever dates back to ancient Greece. This treatment idea first appeared in print in the 16th century.
Most physicians suggest you keep a normal diet, as much as possible, when you have a cold or fever. Starving a fever may actually be dangerous.
Your ancestors had a poor understanding of body temperature, the role of nutrition and the nature of disease. This may explain their poor advice to starve a fever.
Your normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. A fever constitutes a raise in body temperature by at least 1 degree Fahrenheit to 99.6 degrees, which is considered a low-grade fever.
Seek medical attention if you have a high-grade fever, which is a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. This may be a sign of a serious medical complication.
Various medical conditions can lead to a fever, such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, heat exhaustion and multiple sclerosis. This is why you should seek medical attention whenever you experience a fever.
The hypothalamus acts like your internal thermostat. During a fever, the hypothalamus is tricked in believing that your body temperature is too low.
A fever is not necessarily a bad thing and may help you fight off illness. The heat simulates your white blood cells to produce antibodies for fighting infection.
Aristotle argued that food is to a fever, as wood is to a fire. Instead of starving a fever, however, Aristotle believed you should overeat, with the belief that an excessively hot body temperature would get rid of a fever.
In addition to starving a fever, doctors prescribed castor oil for inducing vomit and bloodletting as ways of treating a fever. Such “scientific” remedies were published in medical journals.
Starving yourself robs your cells of needed energy to help with your immune response. A good immune response is essential for fighting off a virus.
Some people who suffered from a fever were starved to death. At the very least, people who had a fever and were treated with starvation suffered excessively long illnesses with complications.
A Dutch study done in 2002 revealed that eating while you have a fever increases your body's ability to destroy cells infected with a virus.
Gamma interferon is a chemical messenger that triggers T cells to destroy virus infected invader cells. Gamma interferon is increased if you have a fever and eat a proper meal.
The immune system screws up your hypothalamus controls, which make you think that you're not hungry. An illness may also cause gastrointestinal issues, leading to symptoms of nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.
Experts suggest that you discontinue your low-calorie diet during the flu season. You need good nutrition during this season to boost your immune system.
It's very important to drink plenty of fluids. Drink water or flat lemon-lime soda. Carbonated drinks may bother your stomach.
Start off small with only a couple of ounces of liquid every 15 to 30 minutes. If you can hold that down after a few hours, begin drinking larger quantities of water, tea, fruit drinks and broth.
Really, anything that doesn't make you feel nauseous is okay. You may want to start off with something small, like buttered toast and go from there.
Eat foods like lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and nuts. These foods are rich in protein, vitamins B6 and B12 and zinc. These nutrients help boost your immune system.