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Ibuprofen tablets, a common antipyretic

Antipyretics (/ænti.pˈrɛ.tɪks/, from the words anti- meaning 'against' and pyretic meaning 'feverish') are substances that reduce fever.[1] Antipyretics cause the hypothalamus to ignore increases in temperature caused by prostaglandin. The body then works to lower the temperature, which results in a reduction in fever. These elevations alter the firing rate of neurons that control thermoregulation in the hypothalamus. Although fever benefits the nonspecific immune response to invading microorganisms, it is also viewed as a source of discomfort and is commonly suppressed with antipyretic medication. Antipyretics such as aspirin have been widely used since the late 19th century, but the mechanisms by which they relieve fever have only been characterized in the last few decades. It is now clear that most antipyretics work by inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase and reducing the levels of PGE2 within the hypothalamus.[2]

Most antipyretic medications have other purposes. The most common antipyretics in the United States are ibuprofen and aspirin. These are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used mainly as analgesics to relieve pain, but which also have antipyretic properties. Acetaminophen or (paracetamol), is an analgesic with weak anti-inflammatory properties.[3]

There is some debate over using medication to control fever. Fever is part of the body's immune response to infection.[4][5] A study by the Royal Society found controlling fever causes at least 1% more influenza cases of death in the United States, which results in at least 700 extra deaths per year.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Definition of antipyretic". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  2. "Antipyretic - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  3. "Acetaminophen," National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Modified 2016-08-07, Accessed 2016-08-16.
  4. "Mayo Clinic".
  5. "Medline Plus".
  6. Kupferschmidt, Kai (2014-01-21). "Fight the Flu, Hurt Society?". ScienceNow.