Our first line of defense against illness
Symptoms are the body’s natural response to help remove the causes of disease, and lessen their damage. Symptoms are often mistaken for the illness itself. For example, when we get food poisoning, diarrhea is a beneficial response to eliminate the offending microbes. Attempting to stop the diarrhea with medication is potentially harmful, as it may allow dangerous bacteria to proliferate and gain entry into the bloodstream. In acute illnesses, such as colds and flu, the symptom such as fever, mucous production, and cough are the body’s defenses to get rid of the virus. A fever promotes interferon production in the brain, which then further activates white blood cells to destroy the virus. Coughing aids in expelling mucous, carrying away dead cells and preventing them from settling within the lungs.
Suppressing the fever and cough with medication can lead to a prolonged illness. The most common cough suppressants contain dextromethorphan and codeine. A study between a placebo and these cough remedies showed that the placebo worked just as well. All children improved significantly by day three, and there was no difference among the three treatment groups.
Self-medicating symptoms with over-the-counter medications may not be wise and taking antibiotics for viral illness is useless. Antibiotics are designed to treat the much more uncommon bacterial illnesses. They do have their legitimate uses, which accounts for less than 10 percent of all antibiotics utilized in the country today.
When we begin viewing acute symptoms as a way the body is trying to repair and heal, we will be less likely to stop this process with medication, thereby attaining a more complete recovery.
Learn more about protecting your child’s health and how nutrition affects them in the video feature above!