Pain medications will not prevent a person from contracting the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus or help them fight it off. However, they may help relieve the symptoms of COVID-19.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
There is currently no scientific evidence to support the notion that taking pain relief medication can prevent a person from contracting SARS-CoV-2.
This article will look at how to reduce the chance of contracting the virus and how to use pain relievers to ease the symptoms of COVID-19.
APPROVED FOR COVID-19
Veklury (remdesivir) is the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Veklury is approved to treat diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 in certain hospitalized people. The drug was previously granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. This article is currently being updated to reflect this change.
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Taking pain medications will not prevent a person from contracting SARS-CoV-2.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved any drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, the FDA have granted an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, which is a type of antiviral medication.
This means that although remdesivir is not FDA-approved to treat COVID-19, healthcare professionals are permitted to use the drug in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The CDC also mention that there is currently no vaccine to prevent SARS-CoV-2. The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid exposure to the virus, if possible.
People should follow these rules to prevent contracting and spreading the virus:
- regularly washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from people who do not live in the same household
- covering the mouth and nose with a face covering such as a mask when around other people
- covering sneezes and coughs and throwing away the used tissue
- disinfecting and cleaning surfaces daily
- monitoring one’s health daily
Taking pain relief medication cannot treat the virus or change how long it will take for a person’s immune system to fight it off. However, these drugs can help relieve the symptoms of viruses.
The following sections will look at some of the medications that can help.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Examples of over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDS include:
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever as well as a fever reducer, or antipyretic.
It blocks the release of certain chemicals, resulting in a change in how the body reacts to pain.
Despite the concerns in March 2020 surrounding the use of ibuprofen and COVID-19, no study found any scientific evidence to suggest that ibuprofen worsens COVID-19.
The Commission on Human Medicines have confirmed that there is no clear evidence to suggest that using ibuprofen worsens the new coronavirus.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States advise the use of OTC pain relievers for cases of COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization, citing guidance from the UK government and the CDC.
People are still learning about COVID-19, and authorities are bringing new symptoms to light often.
At the time of writing, the most up-to-date information from the CDC says that the main symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- a cough
- fever or chills
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- body or muscle aches
- a sore throat
- vomiting or nausea
- a runny nose or congestion
- new loss of taste or smell
NSAIDS and acetaminophen can help ease the following symptoms:
- muscle or body aches
It is important to note that pain relievers will not shorten the duration of COVID-19 and will only help relieve some of the symptoms.
People should take OTC medications according to the instructions on the packet or label, and they should not exceed the recommended dosage.
If a person is unsure about taking pain relievers, they can talk to a healthcare professional for advice.
The CDC explain that people showing any of the following symptoms need emergency medical care:
- persistent pain or pressure the in chest
- new confusion
- difficulty breathing
- a bluish tint to the face or lips
- an inability to stay awake or wake up
Individuals with mild symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home, self-isolate, and monitor their symptoms, following the national guidance on self-isolation.
The CDC recommend that people stay in touch with a doctor while they suspect that they have COVID-19. They should contact their doctor by telephone to be directed to the most appropriate healthcare service, if necessary.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that if a person only shows mild symptoms, such as a slight cough or a low-level fever, there is generally no need to visit a medical professional.
Taking pain relievers cannot prevent a person from contracting SARS-CoV-2, nor can it prevent them from developing COVID-19. However, pain relievers can help relieve some of the symptoms of COVID-19.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that ibuprofen worsens the illness.
If a person notices that they have developed symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay at home and stay in touch with a healthcare professional.