Further, he wants to study the effects of antipyretics, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, on febrile illnesses. “Any patient who is admitted to the hospital with a fever is automatically given one of these medications,” Dr. Hausmann says. “Fever is part of the body’s natural response to infection. Some studies suggest that treating a fever with antipyretics impairs the immune system’s ability to fight an infection, and therefore, it may prolong the illness.”2,3
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How It Works
Participants need to have an iPhone or iPad to download the Feverprints app, which is available in Apple’s App Store. After signing a consent form, participants are asked to provide information about their medical history, medications, family history and lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking, drinking and amount of exercise). Participants regularly log their temperatures, symptoms and medications taken for fever. Participants can measure their temperatures with a standard thermometer and manually enter their temperature in the app. Those with Bluetooth-enabled thermometers can automatically import their temperatures into the Feverprints app.
The study is completely anonymous; researchers do not know participants’ identities, and no protected health information is shared. So far, more than 1,000 participants have contributed data.
“We have intriguing preliminary data suggesting that 98.6° F is not the average temperature for the human body,” Dr. Hausmann reports.
Dr. Hausmann admits that it’s a lofty goal to predict underlying illness by solely looking at temperature patterns from crowd-sourced data, but he’s confident that he can achieve it.
“After one year, I think we will have enough data to determine normal temperatures for people of various ages and genders. But being able to predict an illness solely based on its fever pattern will take longer,” he says. He’s also optimistic that the study will identify the effects of antipyretics—whether good or bad—on febrile diseases.
Dr. Hausmann also hopes patients will benefit from directly enrolling in the study by obtaining a better understanding of their conditions and symptoms, as well as how medications affect them. Participants will also be able to share their data with physicians, which may help improve their own medical care.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.
- Wunderlich CA. On the temperature in diseases: Medical thermometry. London: The New Sydeham Society. 1871.
- Doran TF, De Angelis C, Baumgardner RA, Mellits ED. Acetaminophen: More harm than good for chickenpox? J Pediatrics. 1989 Jun;114(6):1045–1048.
- Graham NMH, Burrell CJ, Douglas RM, et al. Adverse effects of aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen on immune function, viral shedding and clinical status in rhinovirus-infected volunteers. J Infect Dis. 1990 Dec;162(6):1277–1282.