Kids health

If your kid has a fever, you might want to avoid ibuprofen for now

Parents are often told to treat a fever with Advil. But with coronavirus starting to circulate in our communities, here's why you may want to choose Tylenol instead.

With everything going on right now—school closures, social distancing, self-isolation, never mind the very real threat of a potentially serious virus invading your home—it’s not like parents need more to worry about. But here’s a new concern to keep on your radar: France’s health minister warned over the weekend in a tweet that anti-inflammatory medications, which include ibuprofen (and go by the brand names Advil or Motrin), could aggravate the coronavirus. (Anti-inflammatories are known to be a risk for those with infectious illnesses because they counteract the immune system’s inflammatory response.)

That’s important information, because parents are often advised to give their kids ibuprofen (Children’s Advil) to treat a fever. And now that the coronavirus is circulating in our communities here in Canada, there is a chance your child could catch it.

We reached out to Toronto paediatrician Dina Kulik to find what she thinks about using ibuprofen at this time. She said that while there isn’t a lot of evidence so far, as a precaution she would advise parents who are treating kids with symptoms of the coronavirus—like a fever and a cough—to avoid ibuprofen, if possible. Instead, you can treat the fever with acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol).

Additionally, the World Health Organization confirmed to reporters at a press conference that while there is no published data that links ibuprofen with worse COVID-19 outcomes, the agency is currently recommending patients not use ibuprofen if they are medicating themselves at home.

The good news is, the evidence so far suggests that when kids get the coronavirus, their symptoms are generally mild. A study published online by the American Academy of Pediatrics on March 16 looked at 731 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,412 suspected cases in China. Out of those cases, while one child died, the vast majority of cases were classified as mild. About six percent of the cases were severe or critical, compared to 18.5 percent of adults.

In most cases, mild symptoms of coronavirus can be waited out at home. If your kid is sick, keep them home and away from others as much as possible. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions and compromised immune systems are most at risk from COVID-19. However, if you think your child needs to see a doctor, call your doctor or local public health authority to find out the best course of action.

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