Author: Aaron Kadola
Medical News Today
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It can reduce inflammation and ease several symptoms, including pain and fever. It is safe for people with COVID-19 to take — there is no evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of harm from COVID-19 or the vaccines that protect against this disease.
COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, can help treat these symptoms.
There were initial concerns about the safety of people with COVID-19 taking ibuprofen, but these claims originated from anecdotal and low-quality evidence. Major public health bodies around the world do not advise against using ibuprofen to ease COVID-19 symptoms or the side effects of the vaccine.
Why did people think it was dangerous previously?
A 2020 paper Trusted Source suggested that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects the body through angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 is an enzyme that influences bodily processes such as blood pressure.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID, one of the most common Trusted Source drugs for treating a range of health conditions. They reduce inflammation in the body, a process that contributes to many diseases, including COVID-19.
Taking ibuprofen can increase ACE2 levels in the body. This connection led to the theory Trusted Source that the drug could increase the risk of developing COVID-19 or worsen its symptoms. Leading medical journals, including The British Medical Journal Trusted Source, also published papers suggesting possible risks of NSAIDs.
Major public health bodies also urged caution Trusted Source on using NSAIDs in people with COVID-19, including the WHO. However, health experts based these decisions on anecdotal or low-quality experimental evidence, and there remains no evidence to support this theory.
For example, the WHO Trusted Source conducted a comprehensive review of 73 clinical trials on the safety of NSAIDs for individuals with COVID-19 in 2020. The researchers found no evidence of a link between taking NSAIDs and severe side effects, reduced recovery times, or death in people with the disease.
A more recent 2021Trusted Source study in The Lancet Rheumatology examined data from 72,179 people from 255 healthcare facilities across the United Kingdom. They found no evidence of an association between NSAID use and a higher risk of death or more severe illness in those with COVID-19.
There is no evidence Trusted Source that ibuprofen can worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.
There were initial concerns Trusted Source that this drug could worsen COVID-19 symptoms by increasing ACE2 levels. The theory stated that higher amounts of ACE2 could assist SARS-CoV-2 in attacking healthy cells around the body. However, there is still no evidence to support this.
Doctors may recommend Trusted Source taking NSAIDs to improve the symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever. Healthcare professionals also suggest Trusted Source taking ibuprofen for similar conditions, such as influenza. Additionally, the drug can alleviate other COVID-19 symptoms, such as muscle aches and pains.
The recommended treatments for COVID-19 depend on its severity and a person’s overall health.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Some treatment approaches aim to reduce pain and discomfort. For example, doctors may recommend Trusted Source ibuprofen or acetaminophen (paracetamol) as a pain reliever for COVID-19.
Other treatment approaches aim to reduce pain by slowing the virus or disease progression.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source has approved remdesivir, an antiviral medication, for treating COVID-19.
Doctors may administer different treatments in patients in the hospital with COVID-19, such as blood thinners.
Ibuprofen and the COVID-19 vaccine
The CDC Trusted Source recommends talking with a doctor about taking ibuprofen to help with the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, could reduce some side effects, such as fever, chills, or muscle aches.
However, the agency advises against taking ibuprofen before getting the vaccine to avoid its side effects.
Side effects of the vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, as with any medication. However, these are typically mild and resolve within a few days Trusted Source. The side effects can include:
- pain, flushed skin, and swelling at the injection site
- head and muscle aches
It is important to note that severe or long-lasting side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are extremely rare Trusted Source.
There is currently no evidence that taking ibuprofen can increase the risk of developing COVID-19 or worsening symptoms. There is also no research stating that ibuprofen increases the risk of death from COVID-19 or complications following the vaccine.
There were initial concerns over the safety of taking ibuprofen with COVID-19 due to its effect on ACE2 levels within the body. However, this theory still lacks evidence. NSAIDs help people manage some COVID-19 symptoms and vaccine side effects, such as fever.