Philadelphia Health Alert for Elders and Caregivers: Does Ibuprofen Make the Coronavirus Worse?

Philadelphia Health

Philadelphia Health Alert for Elders and Caregivers: Does Ibuprofen Make the Coronavirus Worse?


Taking ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can aggravate the Coronavirus. This is according to the French Minister of Health Olivier Veran as announced on Twitter. This information is vital for the millions of people who take NSAIDS such as ibuprofen regularly, including seniors and those that may have compromised immunity. Unfortunately, this is also the population at greatest risk of coronavirus. 

Increasingly apparent risk

Other publications have followed suit with this warning for elders and all people. Anti-inflammatory drugs can impair the body’s immune system, putting them at risk for infectious diseases in general, including COVID-19, the Guardian reports. Véran, who is a doctor, recommended taking acetaminophen instead. Acetaminophen is sold under brand names including Panadol and Tylenol, per WebMD. Seniors and their caregivers should refer to their physicians for dosing instructions. 

Should I be worried for myself or my loved one?

Despite what the French Health Minister has said, there is still little evidence to confirm that these anti-inflammatories make coronavirus infections worse or more deadly. That being said, it has long been known that anti-inflammatories can have a depressive effect on parts of our immune systems.

Managing pain

As a result of coronavirus, people may usually grab for pain relievers first to deal with flu-like symptoms. In cases of the common cold, a mild depressive effect of the inflammatory response is usually not cause for concern. Millions more people take pain medications like ibuprofen on a daily basis. This helps deal with crippling pain and chronic conditions. 

However, if we take medicines that dampen the immune response, such as ibuprofen, this can lead to us not fighting off an infection as effectively. As a result, a longer illness period may occur along with higher risk of complications. In the case of the coronavirus, it creates more cause for alarm for those at greatest risk. 

Besides ibuprofen, other commonly used anti-inflammatories include naproxen, diclofenac and steroids such as prednisolone.

How to stay safe

While we may not have conclusive evidence just yet, it may be wise to consider alternative pain treatments such as acetaminophen. This includes you or your elder loved one. In any case, there is no need to panic.

Talk to your doctor

Before implementing changes, it is important to consult with your doctor. They can ensure that taking other forms of medications are safe. Your physician will need to consider your individual circumstances and current medication regimen. They will ensure that there are no potentially dangerous interactions or other health concerns. They may also decide that ibuprofen is the safest course of action at this point.

For some, it may be a delicate balance- managing the symptoms of their long-term health or chronic conditions and risking the devastating effects of the coronavirus.

Turn to home care for support

Help take the confusion out of care for yourself or your loved one in need. By partnering with a home care agency like Chosen Family, you can count on well-trained and compassionate home health aides and caregivers to keep your senior loved one safe. 

The best providers of senior home care like Chosen Family ensure that they have the right protocols and emergency procedures in place for difficult and quickly changing health challenges like the coronavirus outbreak. We partner closely with family and elders in need to foster a healthy environment at home. 


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