You may have seen some recent news headlines about the potential dangers of taking ibuprofen (aka Advil or Motrin) if you have the coronavirus. There have been many conflicting reports about this online, so I’ve summarized the facts as we know them so far so that you can make an informed decision for yourself, should the need arise.

Right now, there is no evidence that taking ibuprofen makes symptoms of the coronavirus worse1. This idea is based on a hypothesis that the way that ibuprofen works might make it easier for viruses like the coronavirus to enter your lung tissue, hence increasing the severity of your symptoms2. It’s important to know that there is currently NO evidence to support this theory. No studies have been done, and no data has been collected at this point to support or discredit this theory so we don’t know for sure if it is true or not.
Currently, based on the above facts, the advice that is most prudent to follow is:

  • If you have been prescribed ibuprofen for a pre-existing health condition, do not stop taking it without taking to your prescribing doctor first.
  • If you have questions or concerns and aren’t able to speak to your doctor right away, call your pharmacist and speak to them. They can provide you with factual information.
  • If you are not currently taking ibuprofen and you develop a fever or any flu-like symptoms, consider using acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) instead of ibuprofen if you need to take something.

The other thing I would like to remind everyone of is that most of the time, it is not necessary to take anything for a fever, and that you are better off to let a fever run its course if you can. Fevers serve a purpose – they help your immune system kill invaders – so let it do its job if you can. Unless you have what we call a red flag symptom (see below) all a fever typically requires is rest, fluids, and maybe a cool bath to stay comfortable.

Red Flag Fever Symptoms with Covid19

(ie: when you would consider giving Tylenol and seeing a doctor asap)

  • Any fever in babies less than 1 month old
  • Babies under 3 months old with a fever over 104F
  • Any fever over 104F that is not well controlled with Tylenol
  • Fever lasting for more than 3-5 days
  • Lethargy, unresponsiveness, or loss/change of consciousness
  • Severe ear or belly pain
  • Fever accompanied by stiff neck, persistent vomiting, or severe headache
  • Anyone not taking in any fluids and not urinating
  • Anyone not acting “normally;” trust your gut – if you think something is off, get it checked out

References
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/fact-check-is-taking-ibuprofen-risky-for-covid-19-patients-1.4859190
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30116-8/fulltext
https://avivaromm.com/natural-fever-treatments/

Written by Dr. Michelle Marcoux, ND

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