Choosing the wrong fever reducer could spell trouble with coronavirus symptoms

Coronavirus is rapidly changing life as we know it…

Schools, restaurants, and churches are closing, cities are going on lockdown and hospitals are putting up surge tents in order to prepare for the waves of patients they are expecting due to the virus.

It’s enough to make your head spin, and definitely could make anyone freak out just a bit…

Like I almost did when my husband told me he felt feverish as we were getting ready for bed the other night…

My first instinct was sheer panic mode, but then I pulled myself together and we headed to the medicine cabinet to get the thermometer. Luckily his temperature was barely elevated, and by morning was normal.

If his fever had been a degree or two higher when I checked, I would have just pulled out my old standby — generic ibuprofen I get at my local drugstore.

But breaking news recently alerted me to the fact that if my husband did have COVID-19, that could have been a mistake, and here’s why…

The first medication experts warned against

A week ago, a colleague reported on a warning from researchers at the University of Edinburgh of a common medication given in the case of an upper respiratory infection that could lower your chances of surviving Coronavirus.

Who hasn’t been given steroids (I know I have) to help get over a cold more quickly, breathe more easily, and simply feel better faster?

But steroids could actually be a danger to your health if you come down with COVID-19.

That may seem strange. But, according to the research team who studied the effects of steroids on Coronavirus’ cousin SARS and MERS, this is where the problem lies…

Because steroids work to lower inflammation, they also act to suppress your immune system — an action that can have dangerous, possibly deadly, consequences when your body is fighting for its life against a coronavirus.

And now, one more medication has joined steroids on the “do not take list” for Coronavirus patients.

Exacerbating COVID-19 infections

Both the French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, who is a qualified doctor and neurologist, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), have issued frank warnings regarding the use of ibuprofen when treating COVID-19.

These warnings are based on two factors…

First, ibuprofen, like steroids, can result in both lowered inflammation and lowered immune response.

And second, a recent study published in The Lancet medical journal brings up the possibility that ibuprofen could boost a specific enzyme that worsens Coronavirus infections.

This means that if you reach for that bottle of ibuprofen because you’re feeling under the weather, you could be doing more harm than good if it turns out COVID-19 is behind your fever symptoms.

Now it’s important to note two things…

First, as WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said, if ibuprofen had been “prescribed by healthcare professionals, then, of course, that’s up to them.” Even after these concerns, medical professionals may have their reasons…

Related: Mild, moderate and severe symptoms of COVID-19

For instance, we know that people with heart conditions could face harsher outcomes from COVID-19, and that’s partly because of inflammation they already deal with due to the disease, plus the firestorm of inflammation that occurs in a person’s body when fighting respiratory infections like flu or coronavirus. Cases like this, of people with certain conditions that are high risk, may need to be medicated differently.

But, the second thing to note is that there are no firm studies at this time showing that taking ibuprofen does result in worsening outcomes as these experts are warning. However, when you’re dealing with an illness that can become as dangerous as Coronavirus, and you have other options — why risk it?

Besides possibly hindering recovery from COVID-19, there are other drawbacks with ibuprofen: CNN has reported that Rupert Beale, group leader in Cell Biology of Infection at the UK’s Francis Crick Institute, warns,  “There is a good reason to avoid ibuprofen as it may exacerbate acute kidney injury brought on by any severe illness, including severe COVID-19 disease.”

What to take for a fever instead

So, for now, if you’re self-medicating at home at the first sign of a fever, it seems the best course of action is to avoid ibuprofen, just to be on the safe side in regard to Coronavirus.

This includes all drugs that have ibuprofen in them, including Advil and Motrin, and of course generic versions. And, the French authorities are suggesting avoidance of all anti-inflammatories, which would add aspirin, Aleve, naproxen, and more to the list.

Instead, they say to stick with Tylenol because “it will reduce the fever without counterattacking the inflammation.”

I’m fine with that. I’m sure like me, you don’t want to do anything that could lower your immune defenses, right?

Remember, if you do think you are exhibiting symptoms, contact your healthcare provider by phone. They can help you decide on the next steps.

I’m hoping that soon this will all be behind us and we can get back to life as normal. Till then, take care.


  1. Anti-inflammatories may aggravate Covid-19, France advises — The Guardian
  2. World Health Organization backs call to avoid ibuprofen for coronavirus — The Jerusalem Post
Virginia Tims-Lawson

By Virginia Tims-Lawson

Virginia Tims-Lawson has dedicated her life to researching and studying natural health after her mother had a stroke that left her blind in one eye at the age of 47, and her grandmother and two great uncles died from heart attacks. Spurred by her family history, Virginia’s passion to improve her and her family’s health through alternative practices, nutrients and supplements has become a mission she shares through her writing. She is founder of the nutritional supplement company Peak Pure & Natural®.