Why complementary medicine is better than Ibuprofen or Paracetamol in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections (common cold and flu)

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Author: Russell Setright
Date: Sept. 2016
From: Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society(Vol. 22, Issue 3)
Publisher: Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,128 words

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Most people at one time or another will catch a common cold or flu. Many different types of viruses cause these infections and it is these viruses that infect the nose, throat and upper respiratory tract, causing pain, congestion and fever.

Common sense tells us that keeping warm and avoiding sudden temperature changes, such as leaving a warm home or office for the cold outdoors, will reduce the chances of catching a cold or flu. Always don warm clothing when moving from a warm to a cold environment as these sudden changes in temperature lower resistance to infection without adequate protection.

Unfortunately, many people just continue doing work and play without rest and use analgesics and other cold formulas to just 'push on through'. Although these may ease the aches and pains associated with respiratory infections they don't reduce your spreading the cold to others and in fact may worsen the symptoms and increase the time needed till recovery. In some cases we just may need something to get through an important event so taking analgesics may help, but prevention or a reduction of the duration of symptoms of a respiratory infection is the best way and complementary medicine may just have the answer.

There are many herbs, vitamins and minerals that have a positive effect on reducing the incidence, duration and symptoms of respiratory infection. The following is factual information on the most commonly used complementary medicines.

The evidence

Paracetamol and Ibuprofen

Paracetamol and Ibuprofen could prolong the symptoms of respiratory infections. A new study found patients were more likely to come back within a month with worsening or new symptoms if they were prescribed Ibuprofen or Ibuprofen with Paracetamol for the symptoms of the common cold. Between 50% and 70% of participants in this study who were prescribed Ibuprofen or Ibuprofen with Paracetamol had elongation and worsening of the symptoms that required returning to their doctor. (1)

Health Department Warning

Call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (Australia) if a child, young person or adult has taken more Paracetamol or Ibuprofen than is recommended. Paracetamol is often taken by people who intend to harm themselves (suicide attempts). Paracetamol in large doses can cause severe liver damage.

Use in the elderly

Ibuprofen should not be taken by adults over the age of 65 without careful consideration of co-morbidities and co-medications because of an increased risk of adverse effects, in particular heart failure, gastro-intestinal ulceration and renal impairment.

Use in pregnancy

Category C: Ibuprofen inhibits prostaglandin synthesis and, when given during the latter part of pregnancy, may cause closure of the foetal ductus arteriosus, foetal renal impairment and inhibition of platelet aggregation, and may delay labour and birth. Use of Ibuprofen is therefore contraindicated during the third trimester of pregnancy, including the last few days before expected birth.

Vitamin D3

Low vitamin D status is associated with higher rate of respiratory infections

A large study, of 18,883 people, reported strong association between low blood levels of vitamin D...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Setright, Russell. "Why complementary medicine is better than Ibuprofen or Paracetamol in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections (common cold and flu)." Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, vol. 22, no. 3, 2016, p. 129+. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
  

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