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Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a common treatment for relieving fever, pain, and inflammation.
Ibuprofen brand names include Brufen, Genpril, Ibu-Tab, Cuprofen, Nurofen, Advil, and Motrin, among others.
The packaging of medication at a pharmacy will state whether a product contains ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID, which is a type of medication with analgesic, fever-reducing, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory properties.
Other types of pain relief medication are steroids and narcotics, or opioids. NSAIDs are safer than both of these, as long-term steroid use can have severe adverse effects, and taking opioids can result in improper use.
If a person takes ibuprofen by mouth, they should notice the effects after 20–30 minutes.
People can take ibuprofen by mouth as a syrup or tablet. They can also apply it directly to the skin as a mousse, gel, or spray.
Other products combine ibuprofen with opioids, such as oxycodone. These are for short-term use only, as they can result in misuse.
The most common adverse effects of ibuprofen are gastrointestinal. They include:
Among other likely side effects are:
If a person feels dizzy after taking ibuprofen, they should not drive or operate machinery.
Who should not use it?
It may also not be appropriate for those who:
- have repeated stomach problems, such as heartburn or abdominal pain
- have stomach ulcers
- have bleeding problems
- have high blood pressure
- have heart disease
- have kidney disease
- are aged over 60 years
- have taken a diuretic
- are using other NSAIDs or pain relief medication
- are using anticoagulants
- are receiving treatment for any serious condition
- have chickenpox or shingles
- have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- have liver problems
People who are already using any type of medication should ask a healthcare professional for advice before taking ibuprofen.
Side effects can arise within the first weeks of using this drug. The risk may be greater with a higher dose or long-term use or if a person has a history of heart disease.
The FDA calls on people to be aware of this possible problem and to seek immediate medical attention if they experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, sudden weakness in one part or side of the body, or sudden slurred speech.
A person should consult a doctor or qualified pharmacist if they are unsure about whether to use ibuprofen.
When to stop using it
- faintness or blood in vomit or stool
- pain that gets worse or lasts longer than 10 days
- a fever that worsens or lasts longer than 3 days
- swelling or change in skin color in the area of pain
- any new symptoms
Some people may have an allergy to the ingredients of ibuprofen.
- hives, change in skin color, blistering, or a rash
- facial swelling
- wheezing and difficulty breathing
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should stop using the drug.
In severe cases, anaphylactic shock may occur, and a person will have difficulty breathing. This is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Pregnancy and nursing
A person should seek guidance from a healthcare professional before using any medication during pregnancy or when nursing.
Is ibuprofen addictive?
The body does not build up a tolerance to it, so a person will not need larger doses for the same effect. Also, there are no withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using it.
Sometimes, one medication can interfere with the effects of another. Specialists refer to this as drug interaction.
Drugs that may interact with ibuprofen
- oral hypoglycemics
- high dose methotrexate
- medication for lowering blood pressure
- angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
This may not be an exhaustive list of drugs that interact with ibuprofen. Anyone who is considering using ibuprofen should ask a pharmacist or doctor whether it is safe to do so with their existing medication.
Ibuprofen is widely available in tablet and syrup forms. Doctors
The dosage will depend on the reason for taking ibuprofen and a person’s age. It is essential to take the correct dosage to minimize the risk of side effects.
For mild to moderate pain, a person can take 400 milligrams (mg) every 4–6 hours. The maximum dose in 1 day is 3,200 mg.
For other purposes, a doctor will recommend the dosage. They will also monitor the person for adverse effects and adjust the dose as necessary.
Ibuprofen and children
Children can take pediatric ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever.
Doses for children are lower than those for adults. Research suggests that dose levels be based on a child’s weight and age.
People should contact a doctor before giving a child ibuprofen if the child is:
- under 2 years of age or weighs less than 24 pounds
- taking any other medication
- receiving treatment for a serious health condition
People should consult the instructions on the packaging or check with a pharmacist or healthcare professional before giving ibuprofen or other medication to children.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID that is available at pharmacies without a prescription. A person can use it when treating pain and fever.
Ibuprofen carries a warning about serious side effects. A person should always follow the doctor’s instructions and read the information on the packaging carefully before using this or any other medication.