Uses, Side Effects, and Prescription for Ibuprofen

ibuprofen uses and side effects
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. Conditions include migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also close a patent ductus arteriosus in a premature baby. Ibuprofen for period pain can also be used. It can be taken intravenously or by mouth. It typically begins working within an hour. Brand names:  Midol I.B., Advil, Genpril, IBU, Motrin IB, Proprinal, Smart Sense Children’s Ibuprofen. Actiprofen, Advil Children, Advil Pediatric, Children Motrin, Children Motrin Berry Flavor, Children Motrin Bubble Gum Flavor, Children Motrin Grape Flavor, Equate Children Ibuprofen – Berry

Ibuprofen drug was discovered in 1961 by Stewart Adams and John Nicholson while working at Boots UK Limited and initially marketed as Brufen. It is available under several trade names. Ibuprofen was first sold in 1969 in the U.K. and 1974 in the United States. It is on the WHO List of Essential Medicines. It is available as a generic medication. In 2020, it was the 38th most commonly prescribed medication, with more than 16 million prescriptions.

Ibuprofen can increase the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke. Do not use this medicine before or after heart bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft). Ibuprofen may also cause deadly stomach or intestinal bleeding. These conditions can occur without warning while using this drug, especially in adults of old age. Never take more than the recommended dose. An ibuprofen overdose can damage the stomach or intestines. Use only the most minor dose to relieve pain, swelling, or fever.

This product is available in the market in the following dosage shape:

  • Chewable Tablet,
  • Tablet
  • Suspension
  • Capsule, Liquid Filled
  • gels or creams
  • sprays

Let us Discuss Ibuprofen in detail. This article will help you understand its different uses, side effects and comparison and interactions with other drugs.

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What is the use of Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is used primarily for the treatment of fever (including post-vaccination fever), mild to moderate pain like pain relief after surgery, osteoarthritis, painful menstruation, headaches, pain from kidney stones and dental pain; almost 60% of people respond to any NSAID, and those who do not respond well to a particular one may react to another. 

NSAIDs are effective for short-term relief in patients with acute low back pain.It is used for inflammatory diseases like juvenile idiopathic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also be used for pericarditis and patent ductus arteriosus.

How to use Ibuprofen?

Take this medication as directed on the label. Take it with or without food. If it disturbs the stomach, take it with food.

Patients over 65 may have a stronger reaction and need a smaller dose.

How much you can take depends on how old you are, the type of Ibuprofen you’re using and how strong it is. For instance:

  • Children’s ibuprofen dosage. Children under 16 years of age may need to take a less dose, depending on their age bracket; check the packet or leaflet, or ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice.
  • Ibuprofen dosage for adults. Adults can typically take 1 or 2 tablets of 200mg after every 4 to 6 hours but should take at most 1,200mg (6 x 200mg) tablets in 24 hours.

An ibuprofen overdose can destroy your stomach or intestines. Ibuprofen’s maximum dose for adults is 800 mg (single dose) or 3200 mg daily (4 maximum doses). A child’s dose depends on the weight and age of the child. Follow the dosing instructions carefully, provided with children’s Ibuprofen for the weight and age of your child. 

Use Ibuprofen with food or milk to lessen your stomach upset.

Shake the oral suspension well before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided or a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon). It would be best if you chewed the chewable Tablet before you swallowed it. Keep it a room temperature, away from heat and moisture. Do not allow the liquid drug to freeze.

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What are the Possible Side Effects of Ibuprofen?

If you have signs of an allergic reaction to Ibuprofen, such as hives, breathing issues, facial or throat swelling, or a severe skin reaction, get immediate medical attention (sore throat, fever burning eyes, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling and skin pain).

Seek immediate emergency medical assistance if you experience any of the heart attack or stroke symptoms mentioned below: Slurred speech, full-blown or shortness of breath, abrupt numbness or weakness on one side of the body, or chest discomfort that radiates to your jaw or shoulder.

If you experience the following, stop using this prescription and contact one of our doctors immediately.

  • Visual changes
  • Breathlessness (even with light exercise)
  • Edema or quick weight gain
  • Skin rash of any severity
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding symptoms, such as bloody or tarry feces
  • Bloody coughing or vomit that resembles coffee grounds
  • Nausea
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Itching, fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-coloured feces
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes) is an indication of liver disorders
  • A low level of RBCs (anemia) – pale complexion, dizziness or feeling out of breath, an accelerated heartbeat, and difficulty concentrating:
  • Kidney issues include infrequent or infrequent urination, painful or difficult urination, ankle or foot edema, and fatigue or shortness of breath.

Read More: Can You Take Tylenol and Ibuprofen Together?

Common ibuprofen side effects may include

  • Nausea, vomiting, and gas;
  • Bleeding; or
  • Dizziness and headache.

More than one in a hundred persons experience these Ibuprofen adverse effects frequently while taking it orally. 

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Common side effects of gel, mousse and spray

Because less Ibuprofen enters your body through the skin than through tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid, you are less likely to have side effects. But if you use a lot on a significant skin region, you risk still experiencing the same adverse effects.

Ibuprofen application may occasionally make your skin more susceptible to sunlight than usual. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor.

Serious side effects

Symptoms of stomach bleeding from ibuprofen. Stop taking Ibuprofen if you get black stools or blood in your vomit, which may indicate stomach bleeding.

  • Blood in the urine, swollen ankles, and even the inability to urinate may indicate kidney disease.

How does Ibuprofen work

Ibuprofen affects one of the pain’s chemical pathways. Your body’s capacity to produce prostaglandins, which cause pain, inflammation, and fever, is decreased. Your body produces fewer prostaglandins, lowering inflammation and discomfort levels and fever.

Peak serum concentration is obtained following oral administration after 1 to 2 hours, and up to 99% of the medication is bound to plasma proteins. The bulk of Ibuprofen is digested and cleared in the urine within 24 hours; however, 1% of the drug is excreted in the bile.

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Naproxen vs Ibuprofen

Two of the most often used medications for muscular pains, joint pain, and inflammation brought on by disorders like osteoarthritis are naproxen (Aleve) and Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Both are easily accessible over the counter (OTC), like most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), in pharmacies and retail store aisles.Let’s look which is superior.

NSAIDs, such as naproxen and Ibuprofen, are equally effective for treating acute and persistent pain. Like other NSAIDs, naproxen and Ibuprofen are effective for aches and pains in the muscles and joints.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as naproxen (Aleve) and Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), are readily available over-the-counter (OTC). They are frequently used to treat inflammation and pain.

In children aged three months to twelve, Ibuprofen is also preferable.


Ibuprofen wears off quickly in your body, whereas naproxen lasts far longer. This is a result of its prolonged action. Naproxen has a 12-hour half-life. Therefore, you would only need to take naproxen twice daily to receive complete 24-hour coverage (about every 12 hours). Additionally, a prescription-only extended-release form of naproxen lasts the entire day. However, Ibuprofen needs to be taken every 4 to 6 hours because of its short half-life. If you’ll need relief for a while, taking a longer-acting drug like naproxen is usually more convenient.

Gastrointestinal Safety

Compared to naproxen, Ibuprofen has a marginally decreased incidence of gastrointestinal hemorrhage (esophageal and stomach bleeding). Using any NSAIDs as short-term solutions is preferable and at the lowest effective dose possible.

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Renal Safety

NSAIDs are usually safe as long as they are used as prescribed and seldom. However, exposure to NSAIDs may result in acute renal damage. Your risk could also be raised if:

  • Age over 65 years old.
  • You consume diuretics.
  • Already have kidney issues.

Since all NSAIDs carry an equal risk of renal impairment, naproxen has no more significant or worse effects on the kidneys than Ibuprofen.

Cardiac Safety

The FDA has issued a warning that all NSAIDs have the potential to cause a heart attack or stroke when taken at high doses over an extended length of time.

For people with heart disease who will be taking NSAIDs longer than a month, naproxen at doses up to 500 mg twice daily is favoured above other NSAIDs. According to several comprehensive studies, more naproxen use did not increase cardiovascular problems. Studies suggest that naproxen may have a lower risk of heart issues than other NSAIDs.

The risk of potential heart issues brought on by naproxen or any other NSAID being more or lesser than that of other NSAIDs cannot yet be determined based on the information that is now available.

Pediatric age group

As previously indicated, Ibuprofen has been extensively utilized and investigated in young children. The most popular NSAID among children is Ibuprofen, the only one approved for use in those three months of age and older. But occasionally, your child’s pediatrician might advise naproxen.

Children who experience pain or inflammation respond well to naproxen and Ibuprofen. Depending on weight, a different dose is advised for children under 12.

Ibuprofen is available as a liquid and a chewable tablet OTC, two dose forms frequently required for children who cannot swallow a tablet whole. This is a crucial distinction between the two medications for kids.

Your child’s pediatrician is more likely to recommend Ibuprofen than naproxen since it has better evidence to support its usage in kids.

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OTC vs Prescription NSAIDs

The quick answer is that Ibuprofen and naproxen are available in the prescription form in higher concentrations than over-the-counter.

Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen (tylenol vs ibuprofen)

The two most popular painkillers are Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (Ibuprofen). While they have certain similarities, there are also some significant variances. Similar ailments like fever and mild to moderate discomfort are frequently treated with Advil and Tylenol. However, these are two distinct medicines.

While Tylenol is worse on the liver, Advil is harder on the stomach and kidneys.

The way that Ibuprofen and Tylenol act on the body to reduce pain or fever is the fundamental distinction between them. The cyclooxygenase (COX) pathway, which the body uses to cause inflammation and edema, is impacted by both drugs. The COX pathway aids in producing chemicals that contribute to fevers, discomfort, and edema. The two primary COX enzymes (proteins) mentioned in this article are: and COX-1

NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen, reduce temperature, discomfort, and edema by preventing COX-1 and COX-2 from working throughout the body. Direct effects of Ibuprofen on the COX pathway.

It’s essential to comprehend how Tylenol functions. It may also have an impact on the COX pathway. However, unlike Ibuprofen, Tylenol does not directly block the COX-1 or COX-2 enzymes. This difference will be significant when we address the adverse effects below.

Another significant difference is that Tylenol works more effectively on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). In the peripheral nervous system, it is less effective (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord). In addition, Tylenol has no anti-inflammatory effects.

Maximum Dose

For most adults, 4,000 mg of Tylenol per day is the highest dose advised. However, it can be suggested that those who are older, have children, or have certain medical conditions take less than this. It is recommended to confirm the safest dose for you to consume with your healthcare practitioner.

For most adults, 1,200 mg of OTC Ibuprofen daily maximum is advised. For particular medical disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a doctor may prescribe higher doses of Ibuprofen. However, it would be preferable to take this drug in more elevated amounts with your doctor’s approval.

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Gastrointestinal Safety

Compared to Tylenol, Ibuprofen is more stomach-friendly. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen primarily target the COX pathway, as was already explained. However, Ibuprofen has a direct impact on COX enzymes.

Your body has COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes in every part, including the stomach lining. Your stomach contains both enzymes, but COX-1 is more prevalent. Maintaining the protective lining of the stomach is another function of COX-1.

This protective layer may become less robust when NSAIDs like Ibuprofen block COX-1 in the stomach. This may increase the chance of stomach bleeding and ulcers.

It would help if you ate before taking Ibuprofen to lessen its adverse effects on the stomach. It only needs a small snack or a few crackers; it doesn’t have to be a full dinner.

Liver Safety

Tylenol ( Acetaminophen) is more detrimental to the liver. Tylenol can potentially harm the liver because the liver metabolizes it. Nearly half of all acute (sudden) liver failures in the United States are caused by Tylenol.

These liver damages are typically brought on by one of two things:

More acetaminophen is consumed than is advised. This can be the case if someone feels that the recommended ibuprofen dosage isn’t performing effectively enough.

Unknowingly, people consume too much acetaminophen.

By accident, it’s simple to take too much Tylenol. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is a common element in both OTC and prescription treatments. Look for this ingredient on the label of the cough-and-cold drugs. Numerous pharmaceutical painkillers, including opioids and migraine medicines, can be taken with acetaminophen.

When calculating your daily dosage, it’s crucial to take acetaminophen into account from all possible sources. The maximum daily dose that anyone should take is 4,000 mg.

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Renal safety

The kidneys react negatively to Advil. The protective lining of the stomach contains COX-1, as was previously described. The function of COX-1 in the kidneys’ urine production is also essential. This aids in the body’s elimination of waste.

The blood runs to the kidneys may be reduced when Ibuprofen inhibits COX-1 enzymes. The kidneys have it more complex trying to function as a result.

Ibuprofen users who already have kidney issues should exercise caution when taking NSAIDs. This is crucial if you use other kidney-harming drugs like furosemide or lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) (Lasix).

Acetaminophen is safer for your kidneys. The liver breaks it down, so the risk to the kidneys is low.

This combination is alright. Because Ibuprofen and Tylenol work and are broken down differently in the body, they can be used together. Healthcare providers often recommend rotating which pain reliever you take next to help limit side effects and stay within recommended dose limits.

For example, your first dose of medication might be Tylenol. When you’re due for your next dose, you will take Ibuprofen instead of Tylenol. Your third dose would be with Tylenol again. You would continue this pattern until your symptoms resolved or you needed additional medical care.

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Aspirin vs Ibuprofen

Aspirin and Advil (Ibuprofen) are frequently used to treat fever, edema, and discomfort. Despite certain similarities, they differ enough to have a few special applications.

Salicylic acid is aspirin’s active component. This medicine can reduce inflammation, discomfort, and fever (swelling). Additionally, it can stop platelets, a particular type of blood cell, from congealing and producing blood clots.

Both drugs have a comparable effect on the body. They have an impact on the COX pathway, which is a process. Fever, discomfort, and edema are all significantly influenced by this route. However, as we’ll discuss below, there are minor variations in how the two drugs impact this procedure.

Aspirin and Advil belong to a group of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). All medicines in this class affect the COX pathway and can help with pain and inflammation.

The way aspirin and Advil impact the COX pathway is their primary distinction.

Aspirin effectively inhibits COX-1. COX-2 has less of an impact. Advil blocks COX-1 and COX-2 similarly. A non-selective NSAID prevents both, which is why it has that name.

Additionally, aspirin has an impact on thromboxane A2 (TxA2). TxA2 aids in letting our platelets know when it’s time to clot. TxA2 cannot communicate this message to platelets while taking aspirin. As a result, aspirin can aid in preventing blood clots. TxA2 is affected by Advil significantly less weakly, and the impact is short-lived.

Thanks to these distinctions, each medicine can be utilized for a different illness.

Anticoagulant properties

Advil does not thin the blood (anticoagulant). It does not aid in treating or preventing blood clots because its effects on TxA2 are lower than those of aspirin. However, because it does affect TxA2 to some extent, the bleeding risk may increase. You shouldn’t use Advil if you also take blood thinners.

Advil and aspirin have distinct typical side effects. However, both of them are generally well accepted. Consult your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner before selecting a drug to be sure it’s the best choice.

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Precautions you Should follow while taking Ibuprofen.

If you have ever experienced an asthma attack or a severe allergic reaction after taking aspirin or an NSAID, you should avoid using Ibuprofen if you are allergic to it.

If you have ever experienced any of the following conditions before taking this medication: heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, a heart attack, stroke, blood clot; bleeding or stomach ulcers; kidney or liver disease; asthma; or if you take aspirin drug to prevent heart attack or stroke, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.

If you are pregnant or nursing, discuss your options with one of our doctors before using this medication.

Ibuprofen should not be taken while pregnant unless your doctor advises you to. NSAID use in the final 20 weeks of pregnancy can result in severe heart or kidney problems for the unborn child and other pregnancy difficulties.

Without consulting a doctor, never give Ibuprofen to a child less than six months old.

How long does Ibuprofen take to Work?

It depends on the formulation that you are taking. 

Oral Formulations

20 to 30 minutes after taking ibuprofen capsules, tablets, granules, or liquid, you should start to feel better. You may need to take the Ibuprofen drug regularly for up to 3 weeks for some types of chronic pain for it to be effective.

Topical Formulations

Ibuprofen should begin to operate on your skin within one to two days of application.

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Can you Take Ibuprofen with COVID?

If you have COVID-19, acetaminophen is the recommended pain treatment.

Ibuprofen does not appear to increase the risk of coronavirus infection or worsen the sickness. However, several expert groups, such as the FDA, are looking into the possibility.

Ibuprofen’s package information forewarns consumers that there is a chance the medication could conceal infection signs in general (not just COVID-19), delaying diagnosis until it is more advanced.

Acute renal injury has occasionally been linked to NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen). The risk is higher in persons prone to dehydration, such as elderly and critically ill patients.

Studies in animals have revealed that NSAIDs like Ibuprofen raise levels of a protein called ACE2 on the surface of cells—the same protein that SARS-CoV-2 attaches to—there is a theoretical danger that NSAIDs may also influence how SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells.

These issues involve all NSAIDs, including naproxen and diclofenac, not only Ibuprofen.

It makes sense to take acetaminophen unless you cannot stomach it, even if there isn’t a well-established reason to avoid Ibuprofen, especially for COVID-19.

There is presently no indication that using NSAIDs increases the risk of contracting COVID-19. Therefore people who have previously been prescribed them for other ailments like arthritis or pain management shouldn’t discontinue using them without consulting their doctor.

Can I take Ibuprofen after the COVID Booster?

You can take Ibuprofen if you have any adverse effects from the COVID booster shot, such as a hurting arm, headache, or fever. Following the booster, people often take 200 to 400 mg of Ibuprofen up to three or four times daily.

Missed a dose of Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is used as needed. Therefore you might need to follow a dose plan. If it is time for the next dose, skip the missing amount. Only combine two dosages at a time.

Can you Overdose on Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen overdose can occur if used in excess. You can experience harmful side effects, like damage to your stomach or intestines. An overdose can occasionally be lethal. Because of this, you must always follow the instructions on the label or those provided by your doctor.

Avoid taking more than 1200 mg of Ibuprofen in a single day if you buy it over the counter without consulting your doctor. The maximum daily dose of Ibuprofen prescribed by a doctor is 3200 mg.

The following symptoms of an overdose may include shallow breathing, fainting, coma, nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, lethargy, black or bloody feces, coughing up blood, etc.

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FAQs About Ibuprofen Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

How healthy is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen used regularly is not healthy. It does have adverse effects, though, particularly if taken in high dosages or for an extended period, like any medication. A few typical adverse effects are nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and dizziness. Certain people, particularly those with a history of heart disease or high blood pressure, may also experience an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues when using ibuprofen.

How much Ibuprofen can I take?

As previously stated, even if the recommended daily dose of Ibuprofen is 3200 mg, exceeding 800 mg ibuprofen per dose may be detrimental.

How often can you take Ibuprofen?

The total daily dose that is advised is 3200 mg. As a result, you can take 800 mg of Ibuprofen every six hours or four times daily.

Can you take Ibuprofen on an empty stomach?

Ibuprofen can be taken while you can eat and drink regularly. To avoid stomach distress, taking ibuprofen tablets (ibuprofen tablet uses), capsules, granules, or liquid after a meal is better. Never take it on an empty stomach, please.

Can you take Ibuprofen while pregnant?

Ibuprofen is often not advised during pregnancy unless a doctor prescribes it, especially if you are more than 30 weeks along. Ibuprofen’s potential to harm your baby’s kidneys and circulation is the reason for this. Ibuprofen during the first trimester of pregnancy may also increase the risk of miscarriage.

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