When you have a sore throat, it’s natural to reach for all the painkillers you can get your hands on.
But taking ibuprofen could actually impede recovery, a leading doctor warns.
Ibuprofen will dampen the body’s natural response to a virus causing a sore throat, Dr Mike Smith, a former GP and co-chair of the Patients Association, argues.
He advises taking paracetamol and a local anaesthetic spray instead.
‘For a sore throat, what you don’t want to do is dampen the body’s natural defence – the immune system,’ Dr Smith told MailOnline.
‘A few sore throats are caused by secondary infection bacteria, but vast majority are caused by viruses.
‘Ibuprofen and aspirin are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – they dampen the body’s inflammatory response, the defence system.
‘Inflammation is the body fighting the germs.
‘Your throat goes all red from the increasing blood supply – to fight off the virus.’
‘If you dampen that, you’re sticking corks on your bayonets.’
Paracetamol, which is a painkiller but is not an anti-inflammatory, is a better choice, he said.
This is because it kills the pain of a sore throat without affecting the body’s immune system.
Dr Smith said: ‘Medically, I’d rather someone dampened the pain, while making sure they drink enough water, staying at home in bed.
Then you are giving the body a better chance of destroying the virus.
‘If you drink enough and rest enough, and take paracetamol, you give your body the best chance of overcoming it.’
A local anaesthetic spray also helps with a sore throat and difficulty swallowing, without affecting the body’s immune response, he added.
‘A local anaesthetic spray, doers the same, it just dampens the nasty feeling of a sore throat,’ Dr Smith said.
‘You dampen the pain locally without flooding the whole body.
‘I had a nasty sore throat recently and I bought some Ultra Chloraseptic anaesthetic throat spray and that helped a lot.’
He added that reading the instructions and taking painkillers or sprays as directed is important, and that if in doubt, a patient should visit their GP or see a pharmacist.
Dr Smith’s advice echoes the findings of a British study carried out last year.
Researchers from the University of Southampton found paracetamol is the best treatment for coughs, colds and sore throats.
Treatment with a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen is inadvisable, and ibuprofen may even slow down recovery, they said.
Professor Paul Little, of the University of Southampton, who led the study, said treatment with ibuprofen could contribute to the progression of the illness.
(By Madlen Davies/dailymail.co.uk/health)