Paracetamol not effective in flu: study

15 December 2015

A new medical study has contradicted advice by the UK's National Health Scheme to flu sufferers to take paracetamol.

The popular drug, a key ingredient in many cold and flu remedies, was not effective in reducing fever or other symptoms like aches and pains, academics found.

According to an analysis of the results, published in the journal Respirology, there was no significant difference in body temperature between 40 flu sufferers given paracetamol for five days and 40 who were given placebos.

The researchers also did not find any difference between how flu sufferers in each group reported feeling.

The authors, however admitted possibility of their work being affected by anti-flu drug Tamiflu, which the patients had had, as part of safety protocols in the study, which might have clouded the results, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The study conducted in New Zealand looked at patients who had flu.

According to Dr Irene Braintwaite of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, in the study paracetamol was not harmful, but the researchers also found that paracetamol was not beneficial either.

She added, ''We initially theorised that taking paracetamol might be harmful, as the influenza virus cannot replicate as well at higher temperatures and by reducing a person's temperature the virus may have thrived.

''Fortunately this was found not to be the case.''

The New Zealand researchers conducted a randomised control trial involving people with flu viruses. About half of the participants were given 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol) four times a day for five days, while the other half received a placebo.

The researchers found the acetaminophen group did not  fare any better than the placebo group. "Regular daily administration of the maximum recommended dose of [acetaminophen] for 5 days had no effect on viral shedding, temperature or clinical symptoms in participants with [confirmed] influenza infection," the authors wrote.

According to the authors, this was only a small study, so it was not enough to base medical decisions upon. For fevers and flu symptoms, acetaminophen was often recommended for children younger than 3 months, since it was safer than ibuprofen (Advil) at that age. However, in studies of children who were older as also in adults, ibuprofen often outperformed acetaminophen.

 search domain-b