Over the Counter Cold Medications May Help Spread the Flu

Published 01/24 2014 05:46PM

Updated 01/24 2014 06:54PM

JOPLIN, MO.--- Over the counter cold and flu medications could help spread the flu. That's according to a study released by Canada's Mcmaster University earlier this week. The research shows people who take fever-lowering drugs like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, tend to feel better and may get out and spread the disease while they are still infectious. Local health professionals say it's important you realize these medications target symptoms rather than treat the flu. Phamarcist Rollin Trewyn sees people coming into Quick Meds to treat their flu-like symptoms.

"They're coming to get tami-flu to help decrease the severity of the illness, but they'll also be getting over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Aleve, Ibuprofen," said Rollin Trewyn, Freeman Quick Meds Pharmacist. 

Trewyn says people use these medications to treat their fever and body aches.

"About the time the fever and the body aches start to get better from use of the medications, a lot of folks may feel like they are safe to return to work, safe to return to their daily lives," said Trewyn. 

Freeman Infection Prevention Officer Karen Watts says when people take these medications they aren't treating the underlying cause.

"Tylenol, or any type of cold and flu remedy, Alka Seltzer, there's a multitude of those that will make you feel better, but you are still considered contagious," said Karen Watts, Freeman Infection Prevention Officer. 

Health professionals' message is not that you shouldn't take the medication.

"As long as you are aware that you aren't doing anything that's going to make the flu go away any faster it might make you feel better, a little less miserable if you will until the flu goes away," said Watts. 

So what do health professionals advise? The Freeman infection prevention officer recommends people who have the flu stay home until they've been fever free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medications.

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