Q: Should I use ibuprofen to treat a new coronavirus fever?
This is definitely not cut and dry. While the World Health Organization does not recommend against it, as a pulmonary and critical care specialist, I have some concerns with using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, to reduce fever. Fever itself is not deadly, but patients who become critically ill have very high rates of renal (kidney) failure, and NSAIDs should not be used in renal failure. From my perspective, the risk doesn’t outweigh the benefit. My personal practice is to encourage people to avoid or at least minimize NSAID use for treatment of fever for this reason.
Additionally, patients over 60 years old are more likely to have health complications, specifically diabetes and hypertension. These two conditions are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease. In general, it’s best if these patients avoid NSAIDs.
However, individuals who are already on NSAIDs should speak with their doctor before discontinuing treatment or changing medicines. We are learning new things about COVID-19 almost daily, so it’s important to check with your provider if you have concerns or questions.
Dr. Stephanie Coates is a pulmonologist at Vancouver Clinic. She strives to educate patients and empower them to be active participants in their own medical care.