How much ibuprofen a person can take can vary. An adult may be able to take 200–400 milligrams (mg) per dose every 4–6 hours, with a maximum of 1,200 mg per day. Taking more than this may lead to severe adverse effects.

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). People take ibuprofen to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. It is one of the most used medications in the world. However, it can have serious side effects in both the long and short term.

A small overdose can cause minor symptoms. In rare cases, overdoses can be fatal.

If a person has taken too much ibuprofen, they should call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or the emergency services at 911.

This article explains how to take ibuprofen safely and the effects of taking too much.

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Children under the age of 6 months should not take ibuprofen unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional. Children under the age of 12 should only take children’s ibuprofen.

The following table shows recommended dosages for ibuprofen based on weight and age. The dosing is shown in milligrams (mg) and milliliters (mL).

AgeWeightInfant ibuprofen drops (50 mg/1.25 mL)Children’s liquid ibuprofen (100mg/5 mL)Children’s chewable ibuprofen (100 mg)Ibuprofen tablets (200 mg)
6-11 months12-17 lbs 1.25 mL2.5 mL
12-23 months18-23 lbs1.875 mL4 mL
2-3 years24-35 lbs2.5 mL5 mL1 tablet
4-5 years36-47 lbs3.75 mL7.5 mL1.5 tablets
6-8 years48-59 lbs5 mL10 mL2 tablets1 tablet
9-10 years60-71 lbs12.5 mL2.5 tablets1 tablet
11 years72-95 lbs15 mL3 tablets1.5 tablets
12 years or older96 lbs or more20 mL4 tablets2 tablets

A person should always take the lowest effective dose of ibuprofen. Doses should be taken every 6 hours as needed for pain or fever.

A person should not exceed more than 4 doses of ibuprofen in a 24-hour period. Ibuprofen should not be taken for longer than 5 consecutive days for pain and 3 days for fever unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

If a person cannot take ibuprofen due to drug interactions or side effects, there are alternative treatment options available. One alternative medication is acetaminophen (Tylenol). A person can speak with a healthcare professional about other alternatives to ibuprofen.

Learn more about alternatives to NSAIDs.


NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, may not be safe to take during pregnancy. This is because they can alter the function of prostaglandins, which are important during delivery and for the development of the fetus’s cardiovascular system.

A person should consult a healthcare professional before taking ibuprofen during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. An individual should discuss alternative pain relief options with their healthcare professional.


Low doses of ibuprofen may not be detectable in breast milk, but higher doses may get into breast milk. This means that a baby faces exposure to ibuprofen through breast milk if a person who is nursing takes too much.

A person should consult a physician before taking ibuprofen while nursing.

Ibuprofen is an NSAID, a type of drug that people take to reduce pain and relieve inflammation.

Advil and Motrin are the brand names of the drug ibuprofen. People can buy lower strengths of ibuprofen over the counter, and higher strengths are available by prescription.

Ibuprofen is available in tablets, caplets, liquid gel, chewable tablets, and liquid suspension or drop formulations. It is also an ingredient in various products, including cold and allergy medicines.

Ibuprofen works by blocking the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins play an essential role in inflammation when an injury occurs. They cause skin flushing, heat, swelling, and pain. Ibuprofen blocks their action by binding to the COX-1 and COX-2 receptors on an enzyme called prostaglandin synthase.

At the appropriate dosage, ibuprofen is a safe medication for both children and adults to take.

Pain medications are the drug class most often responsible for overdoses in adults. According to one report, 29% of pain medication overdoses involved ibuprofen, making it the NSAID most commonly linked to overdose.

It is not likely that a person will become resistant to ibuprofen and require higher doses. Overall, ibuprofen is a safe NSAID to take, though it may not be appropriate for everyone.

Long term use of ibuprofen can lead to other complications, such as gastrointestinal issues, kidney problems, and issues with the liver.

Individuals should speak with their healthcare professional before taking medications like ibuprofen long term.

The majority of ibuprofen overdoses are not life threatening, and fewer than 1% of ibuprofen overdoses are fatal. That said, some people have experienced severe complications.

There is no specific cutoff dosage for when an adult will experience symptoms of an overdose.

If a child ingests less than 100 mg/kg of ibuprofen, they may not experience any symptoms of an overdose. However, a child may experience serious or life threatening side effects with the use of 400 mg/kg over the course of treatment.

Symptoms of ibuprofen overdose can occur within 4 hours of taking too high of a dose or taking doses too close together.

Stomach and digestion toxicity

When taken at proper doses, ibuprofen can cause side effects like indigestion or heartburn. When ibuprofen blocks the COX-1 receptors in the stomach, it can disrupt its protective layer. In some people, this may progress to peptic ulcers due to erosion of the stomach lining.

People who take too much ibuprofen may experience side effects that range from stomach pain to severe bleeding in the digestive tract. The latter can occur within a few hours of an overdose.

Kidney toxicity

Kidney failure can occur in both children and adults who experience an overdose of ibuprofen. However, it is not common.

A review of ibuprofen toxicity, which the authors updated in 2023, includes a 1992 study that scientists conducted at the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center in Denver, CO. It showed that only 2 out of 63 people who overdosed with ibuprofen experienced symptoms of kidney failure.

In most cases, healthcare professionals can reverse kidney failure from ingestion of a large dosage of ibuprofen.

Central nervous system toxicity

If people take dosages greater than 400 mg/kg over the course of treatment, they may experience central nervous system depression. This can cause loss of consciousness and coma.

Children may experience seizures and decreased consciousness from a massive overdose. Some children may even stop breathing.

Emergency doctors can reverse the central nervous system toxicities that occur due to an ibuprofen overdose.

Compared with NSAIDs such as diclofenac, mefenamic acid, and naproxen, ibuprofen overdoses have links with lower rates of central nervous system toxicities.

Other complications and risks

A possible complication from ibuprofen overdoses is metabolic acidosis, in which the body cannot eliminate acidic compounds from its blood and tissues.

The body breaks ibuprofen down into acidic compounds. When a person ingests too much of it, the acidic compounds accumulate and can reduce the pH of the blood and body tissues. This makes the body more acidic.

Ibuprofen overdose can cause sudden kidney failure and seizures, which can affect the production and elimination of acidic compounds.

Metabolic acidosis can cause:

A blood test can reveal a low platelet count following an overdose. Prothrombin time, which is the time it takes for the blood to clot, will also rise. This means the body’s ability to form blood clots may be reduced.

It is vital for people to seek medical attention immediately if they believe they have ingested too much ibuprofen. In most cases, healthcare professionals can reverse the consequences of an ibuprofen overdose.

A person can also call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 with questions regarding symptoms, and they can recommend if a visit to the emergency department is needed.

The emergency doctor will take a complete history of how much ibuprofen the person took and at what time.

It is also important for the person to mention whether they ingested other substances with ibuprofen. Knowing this will help healthcare professionals to determine the best treatment and how best to manage the overdose.

Ibuprofen is easily accessible through prescription and over-the-counter. Overdoses of ibuprofen are fairly common.

People may experience symptoms of an overdose only at very high dosages. Doctors can usually reverse the damage if they seek medical attention immediately after the ingestion.

It is important to take ibuprofen and other medications only as directed to avoid overdose and other potentially serious side effects.