Study shows flu isn’t deterred by acetaminophen

Scientists recently conducted a randomized clinical trial that shows there are no benefits to patients with influenza when they take acetaminophen or paracetamol for their illnesses.

The study results suggest that the patients experienced no relief from their symptoms when they took the over-the-counter medication.

All of the test subjects were adults from 18 to 65 who all had influenza infections. To treat their infections, they received the maximum recommended dose of either a placebo or paracetamol. They continued this regimen for five days and were observed for approximately 14 days.

"We initially theorized 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,” Dr. Irene Braithwaite, co-author of the Respirology study, said. “Fortunately this was found not be the case. In this study, paracetamol was not harmful, but we also found that paracetamol was not beneficial either."

Using results from this research, health professionals cannot fully justify recommending paracetamol for influenza patients.

"One of the things we need to take from this, though, is that those at risk--particularly pregnant women, the very young, the old, and those with chronic medical conditions -- should have the annual influenza vaccination as it confers the best protection available against the influenza virus,” Braithwaite said.