Covid-19: 'Ibuprofen can worsen infection'

France’s Health Minister has today issued advice not to take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or cortisone to treat the possible symptoms of Covid-19 as these could actually worsen the infection.

14 March 2020
By Sarah Smith (SA)

Minister Olivier Véran instead recommends fighting any fever, one of the symptoms of the coronavirus, with paracetamol.

He put out the message in a Tweet.

Patients on anti-inflammatory drugs for other illnesses are advised to seek advice from their doctor.

The message is important as many people may be self-medicating for the symptoms of Covid-19.

"Anti-inflammatory drugs have an immunosuppressive effect" – ie. they inhibit the activity of the immune system - "which promotes infections. They have a 'booster' effect," Alexandre Bleibtreu, an infectious diseases doctor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, told the French news source FranceInfo.

Paracetamol does not act on the same pathways as the anti-inflammatory drugs and therefore does not present the same risks, added Mr Bleibtreu. "The only side effects are in the case of liver pathologies and exceeding the recommended doses."

Ibuprofen is sold under this name, but also under other names such as Advil or Nurofen.

What to do to protect yourself and avoid the virus spreading:

1: Wash your hands with soap of hydroalcoholic sanitising gel frequently.

2: Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

3: Use tissues designed for single use.

4; Do not shake hands or greet people with kisses on the cheek;

5: If you are sick, stay at home and wear a surgical mask in the company of others.

If you have returned from a high risk area [China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao), Singapore, South Korea, Iran or the Lombardy and Veneto regions in Italy] and present symptom of respiratory infection such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing within 14 days of your return, call 15. Do not go to your local hospital or doctor.

A free hotline service can answer your questions about the Coronavirus Covid-19 non-stop , 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0 800 130 000. It cannot give medical advice.

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