Coronavirus and COVID-19: Recommendations About NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Aspirin) and Cortisone (Prednisone, Cortef)

Over the past few days, some very controversial information has been shared about the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen (Advil, Mortin). Doctors in France have reported a potential negative impact on the progression of illness for patients who had taken NSAIDs. Now, health authorities don’t agree on whether NSAIDs should be avoided.

It’s important to make a distinction between a causative relation (i.e., taking NSAIDs accelerates the progression of the disease) and an indicator of a situation that is already critical (the sickest patients are given NSAIDs, but there is no direct impact on the progression of the disease).

Laboratory data indicates that NSAIDs potentially worsen the disease. For instance, they might cover up early symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and therefore delay the provision of medical care. But other data also shows that NSAIDs have a significant effect on viruses in general.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a French agency issued a report that recommended limiting the use of NSAIDs when fighting severe infections. However, there is currently no scientific consensus on data showing any COVID-19-specific risks.

How do I change my medication?

If you’re unsure what to do, using acetaminophen (Tylenol) as an over-the-counter drug seems like the safest choice. If you’re still worried, talk to your healthcare team about using NSAIDs. 

Click HERE for more information about acetaminophen (Tylenol) and CGMs. As you may know, acetaminophen (as well as aspirin and vitamin C) can affect the accuracy of some CGMs. 

Also, beware of overusing either type of drug: an excessive amount of acetaminophen can lead to liver issues, and NSAID overuse can lead to kidney and digestive issues. You must never exceed the maximum allowable dose, and you must stay hydrated.

If you currently take NSAIDS on a regular basis for medical reasons (e.g., arthritis, cardiovascular disease), do not abruptly stop taking your medication. Talk to your healthcare team.

What should I do if I use cortisone (prednisone or Cortef) on a regular basis?

Cortisone (prednisone or Cortef) is another type of anti-inflammatory drug that is sometimes prescribed to patients with type 1 diabetes. As for NSAIDs, there is no indication on whether the use of cortisone should be stopped or continued. If you take this type of drug due to adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), you absolutely must continue taking your medication every day. You might even need a larger dose if you show signs of infection. 

Visit the BETTER news section for more information on the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 and type 1 diabetes.

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