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These Medications are Best for Omicron Symptoms

Three OTC medications that can help relieve some symptoms, according to experts.

The winter surge is here. Omicron is spreading so quickly across the U.S. that hospital rates have skyrocketed and emergency rooms are packed with COVID patients. It's unlike anything we've ever seen, even at the peak of the prior surges of COVID," Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN. "What we're experiencing right now is an absolute overwhelming of the emergency departments" in Washington, Phillips added. The good news is, you can help treat the symptoms in some cases with over-the-counter medications. Dr. Emily Landon, MD infectious disease, and Executive Medical Director for infection prevention and control wrote a piece for At The Foremont UChicago Medicine, explaining the best OTC meds to take. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


You Can't Treat the Virus with OTC

Female pharmacist with protective mask on her face working at pharmacy.

Dr. Landon, MD wrote: "The most important thing to know about using over-the-counter medications to treat COVID-19 is that none of these common drugstore products are actually going to treat the virus itself. But these medications can certainly make you feel a whole lot more comfortable when you're sick."


When to See a Doctor

Female doctor consults mature patient during the quarantine for coronavirus.

Dr. Landon explained "In terms of specifics:  acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help lower your fever, assuming you don't have a health history that should prevent you from using them. It's usually not necessary to lower a fever – an elevated temperature is meant to help your body fight off the virus. But if you feel really awful, it's okay to take a fever reducer. If your temperature is over 104 F, or you or your child has a history of febrile seizures, you will probably need to take something and you should contact your doctor."

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"Acetaminophen, also called paracetamol or Tylenol, helps to reduce fevers and can definitely help manage muscle pain and body aches associated with COVID-19," Dr. Landon wrote. "Acetaminophen doesn't treat the virus itself, nor does it reduce the duration of your illness. A lot of people feel pretty miserable from a fever, which means a fever reducer like acetaminophen is definitely an option for some relief." Just don't take more than is recommended.

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Boxes Of Prescription Painkillers Ibuprofen

Dr. Landon stated, "Ibuprofen, which is also known by the brand names Advil and Motrin, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These types of medications can help lower your fever and minimize muscle aches from COVID-19, while also reducing some inflammation in your body. Ibuprofen doesn't treat the virus itself, but it can make you feel a lot better." Also: "take ibuprofen with food and if you have any underlying kidney disease or ulcer disease, you may not want to reach for ibuprofen."

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Shoppers hand holding a plastic container of Bayer's Aleve brand genuine noxopren sodium tablets in supermarket aisle.

According to Dr. Landon, "Naproxen, which is known as Aleve, is another NSAID (like ibuprofen) that can reduce inflammation and lower your fever. It cannot treat COVID-19 itself, but it can certainly help you feel better."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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