False claim: Avoid medications to lower fever if sick with COVID-19

Posts on social media claim that taking medication to lower fever, such as paracetamol (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), should be avoided when sick with the new coronavirus ( here , here , here ).

The posts read: “So, COVID is killed by heat. That is why our bodies create fever to fight it off. When you take Tylenol or advil it takes away your fever and allows COVID its ideal environment. If you get COVID allow your fever to remain as long as it is not over 103-104 this is your body fighting the virus. If you are having a hard time breathing, boil water put it in a bowl towel over your head and breath in the steam. This will break up the mucus in your lungs. Oregano is a natural decongestant as well. So fresh Oregano is very good for your lungs. Make sure your house is heated well. Very important to stay hydrated. Tomatoes and apples also very good for your lungs. Gatorade is great for electrolytes and energy! For older people make sure your heat in your house is high. The virus will not make it to you, and if you have it, you will sweat it out! Share this for people who are sick to help fight off the virus from home!!”

This claim is false. Health authorities around the world have recommended the use of fever-lowering over-the-counter medicines to cope with COVID-19 symptoms. Paracetamol is widely recommended, although there is some inconsistency in the advice regarding ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory.

On March 14, France’s health minister said people should not use anti-inflammatory drugs if they have coronavirus-like symptoms because it could worsen their condition, and to opt for paracetamol instead ( here ).

Four days later, the European Union’s healthcare regulator said there was no evidence linking anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen with the worsening of COVID-19 (here).

Britain’s National Health Service advises taking paracetamol, rather than ibuprofen, to lower temperature, along with resting and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration (here).

Harvard Medical School recommends acetaminophen (paracetamol) to reduce fever and ease aches in coronavirus patients ( here ). Harvard also says that if taking paracetamol is not possible or a maximum dose has been reached and symptom relief is still needed, “taking over-the-counter ibuprofen does not need to be specifically avoided”.

The Mayo Clinic states on its website that while there is as yet no antiviral medication recommended for treating COVID-19, pain relievers like ibuprofen and paracetamol may be included in the treatment for relieving the symptoms ( here ).

On March 18, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Twitter that, “based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen” for people with COVID-19. ( here )

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that “over-the-counter medicines may help with symptoms” ( here ). A March 11 CDC booklet sent to people returning from countries with COVID-19 outbreaks mentions paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin as medicines that can lower your temperature (page 5 here ).

In an April 6 video, the CDC told audiences: “We review the scientific literature regularly and speak to colleagues and at the present time, there’s no compelling evidence that ibuprofen and other drugs like it can make you sicker if you have COVID-19. Now, we’re going to continue to monitor the situation and if things change, we’ll tell you.” ( here )

Reuters Fact Check team has previously debunked false claims that steam therapy kills the new coronavirus (here).


False: Fever-reducing medications are recommended by health organizations to cope with COVID-19 symptoms

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .