Christie Lehman, MD April 19, 2020
What is the concern about Advil, Motrin and others in this same family called Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs for short?
Back on March 14th, France’s health minister, Dr. Olivier Véran, tweeted “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone … ] could be a factor in aggravating the infection.” He postulated that these medications may worsen a person’s outcome, should they become sick with COVID-19.
Many leading health organizations and scientists have considered Dr. Véran’s concerns. Scientists aren’t quite sure what to make of this yet. Anti-inflammatories seem both to help the body’s response to infection — and slow it.
The advice seems to be going back and forth on this issue. Elizabeth Price, a Medical Microbiologist makes the point that ‘fever is nature’s engine against infection‘, citing a publication in the British Journal of Medicine, and stating that reducing the temperature in patients with COVID-19 may be counterproductive.
The FDA said, on March 23rd, that it is not aware of any evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen could worsen COVID-19.
But the agency noted that all prescription NSAID labels warn that “the pharmacological activity of NSAIDs in reducing inflammation, and possibly fever, may diminish the utility of diagnostic signs in detecting infections.”
The bottom line – Continue to follow the COVID-19 precautions recommended by the CDC, and limit your potential exposure by social distancing. If your orthopedic pain is not controlled well enough with ice, rest and Tylenol, NSAIDs may be reasonable to continue. If you develop fever or other symptoms potentially related to COVID-19, inform your primary care physician.