Speaking to the BBC, medical professionals said that ibuprofen is not recommended for managing coronavirus symptoms.
The NHS says that, while “there is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (Covid-19) worse, until we have more information take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.”
Those already taking ibuprofen for other conditions should not stop without consulting a doctor, though.
Both paracetamol and ibuprofen can bring a temperature down and help with flu-like symptoms. But ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not suitable for everyone and can cause side-effects – especially for people with asthma, heart and circulatory problems.
The NHS website previously recommended both paracetamol and ibuprofen, but has since changed its advice.
There is also some evidence linking ibuprofen to more severe illness from other respiratory infections.
But whatever the advice, there’s still been a great deal of misinformation online. Bogus messages have been circulating on WhatsApp claiming that:
• “There are four young people in an intensive care unit in Cork who have no underlying illnesses – all were taking anti-inflammatories and there are concerns this has caused a more severe illness” (false)
• The University of Vienna has sent a memo warning people with coronavirus symptoms not to take ibuprofen, “because it has been discovered that it increases the speed of reproduction of the coronavirus Covid-19 in the body and this is the reason why people in Italy have reached the current bad stage and rapid spread” (false)
• “At the university hospital in Toulouse, France, there are four very critical cases of coronavirus in [young people] who do not have any health problems. Their problem is that when they all appeared to have symptoms, they all took painkillers like ibuprofen” (false)
These stories circulating on WhatsApp are also appearing on different platforms including Instagram.
Commonly these kinds of copied-and-pasted texts will claim to be from someone the forwarder says they know, often with a medical background.