Over-the-counter meds may help spread flu, researchers say
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — It's flu season and most people turn to over-the-counter cold and flu medications as a solution to recover.
The meds might make you feel better but according to a group of researchers from McMaster University in Canada, you could then be spreading the virus unknowingly to others.
"I was taking the Tylenol Flu medicine to try and get better so that's surprising, that's no help," said Aurora Ponce.
"If you feel better, you leave the house, you may still be very infectious, and you're coughing all over the place, and you're getting other people sick," said Ogechika Alozie, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University.
According to the Canadian health report, over-the-counter cold and flu meds like Tylenol Cold, NyQuil, or Sudafed take care of fevers, a common symptom of the flu, but when your fever goes down and your body cools off because of the drugs, the flu virus in your body is now able to multiply - making you stay sick longer and increasing your chances of infecting others.
"You end up having a lot of people infected than what would otherwise happen," said German Rosas-Acosta, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Science at UTEP.
"I don't think those over-the-counter medicines probably do what really needs to be done and I would agree with what the study said and so I would agree to go get a flu shot. It's not a big deal and I haven't gotten sick at all," said Lyn McKinley.
"I'm not a big Tylenol and Flu person just because I know about the flu and I work in medicine in some capacity. So, I don't really take it but I do get the flu shot," said Amanda Southern.
Medical professionals urge you to get into the habit of getting a flu shot every year because even if you do get sick, they say the symptoms won't be as bad.
Despite the new study's findings, experts say you shouldn't stop taking over-the-counter meds as long as you stay home and away from other people, because the drugs will at least make you feel better until you can decide if you need to see a doctor.