Does treating the symptoms of a cold slow recovery?

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Tom Sobey

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Tom Sobey  asked the Naked Scientists:
Dear Naked Scientists,

My name's Tom, I'm an Australian doing a PhD in Physics in Munich, Germany. I am down with my first 'Cold' of the winter, and it has 'inspired' me to ask the following questions.  I realise that there may not be clear scientific answers to all of the following. Still, I am happy to here your thoughts!

1.  When taking medication to relieve the symptoms of a cold (e.g. panadol, aspirin, vapour rubs, night medications etc.), does this reduction in symptons actually fool the body into 'thinking' the virus is no longer there, and thus reduce it's response to the virus temporarily i.e. it's production of antibodies etc. and their effects on the virus?

2. If the answer is yes, does this mean it is 'better'  (in terms of getting well again faster) not to take these symptom relievers and just let the body slog it out in it's fight?

3. This question is probably controversial. At work, should I keep the windows shut (in Winter) and stay really warm(at the risk of confining all the bacteria and viruses of my colleagues in one room), or should I leave the window ajar and let fresh air circulate through the room, with the downside of having a 'cold draft' present?

Thanks for you thoughts, and keep up the great work!

Tom Sobey

What do you think?


Offline Don_1

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Does treating the symptoms of a cold slow recovery?
« Reply #1 on: 28/10/2009 11:53:10 »
I rather doubt that taking cold relief medication would 'fool' the body into inactivity to fight the infection. But I do think it is better to let it all out rather than holding back.

Colds are usually spread by being in confined areas with someone who is infected. A little fresh air can help the sufferer and just might go a little way to protecting others, but they will probably pick up the infection anyway in the end.

These are just my opinions.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.