- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is ibuprofen? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for ibuprofen?
- What are the side effects of ibuprofen?
- What is the dosage for ibuprofen?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with ibuprofen?
- Is ibuprofen safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What brand names are available for ibuprofen?
- What else should I know about ibuprofen?
What is ibuprofen? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other members of this class include aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen) and several others. These drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. Pain, fever, and inflammation are promoted by the release in the body of chemicals called prostaglandins. Ibuprofen blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower levels of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain and fever are reduced. The FDA approved ibuprofen in 1974.
What are the uses for ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is used for the treatment of mild to moderate pain, inflammation and fever caused by many and diverse diseases. It is used for treating menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Intravenous ibuprofen is used for treating patent ductus arteriosus.
What are the side effects of ibuprofen?
The most common side effects from ibuprofen are:
- ringing in the ears,
- abdominal pain,
- constipation, and
NSAIDs reduce the ability of blood to clot and therefore increase bleeding after an injury.
Ibuprofen may cause ulceration of the stomach or intestine, and the ulcers may bleed. Sometimes, ulceration can occur without abdominal pain; and due to bleeding, the only signs or symptoms of an ulcer may be black, tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing (orthostatic hypotension).
Sometimes, ulceration can occur without abdominal pain, due to the bleeding, and the only signs or symptoms of an ulcer are:
NSAIDs reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys and impair function of the kidneys. The impairment is most likely to occur in patients who already have impaired function of the kidney or congestive heart failure, and use of NSAIDs in these patients should be cautious.
People who are allergic to other NSAIDs, including aspirin, should not use ibuprofen.
Individuals with asthma are more likely to experience allergic reactions to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs.
Other serious side effects associated with NSAIDs are:
- fluid retention (edema),
- blood clots,
- heart attacks,
- hypertension (high blood pressure), and
- heart failure.
NSAIDs (except low- dose aspirin) may increase the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks, stroke, and related conditions in people with or without heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. The increased risk of heart attack or stroke may occur as early as the first week of use and the risk may increase with longer use and is higher in patients who have underlying risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease. Therefore, NSAIDs should not be used for the treatment of pain resulting from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
What is the dosage for ibuprofen?
- For minor aches, mild to moderate pain, menstrual cramps, and fever, the usual adult dose is 200 or 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours.
- Arthritis is treated with 300 to 800 mg 3 or 4 times daily.
- When under the care of a physician, the maximum dose of ibuprofen is 3.2 g daily. Otherwise, the maximum dose is 1.2 g daily.
- Individuals should not use ibuprofen for more than 10 days for the treatment of pain or more than 3 days for the treatment of a fever unless directed by a physician.
- Children 6 months to 12 years of age usually are given 5-10 mg/kg of ibuprofen every 6-8 hours for the treatment of fever and pain. The maximum dose is 40 mg/kg daily.
- Juvenile arthritis is treated with 20 to 40 mg/kg/day in 3-4 divided doses.
- Ibuprofen should be taken with meals to prevent stomach upset.
Which drugs or supplements interact with ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is associated with several suspected or probable interactions that can affect the action of other drugs.
- Ibuprofen may increase the blood levels of lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) by reducing the excretion of lithium by the kidneys. Increased levels of lithium may lead to lithium toxicity.
- Ibuprofen may reduce the blood pressure-lowering effects of drugs that are given to reduce blood pressure. This may occur because prostaglandins play a role in the regulation of blood pressure.
- When ibuprofen is used in combination with methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) or aminoglycosides (for example, gentamicin) the blood levels of the methotrexate or aminoglycoside may increase, presumably because their elimination from the body is reduced. This may lead to more methotrexate or aminoglycoside-related side effects.
- Ibuprofen increases the negative effect of cyclosporine on kidney function.
- Individuals taking oral blood thinners or anticoagulants, for example, warfarin (Coumadin), should avoid ibuprofen because ibuprofen also thins the blood, and excessive blood thinning may lead to bleeding.
- If aspirin is taken with ibuprofen there may be an increased risk for developing an ulcer.
- Persons who have more than three alcoholic beverages per day may be at increased risk of developing stomach ulcers when taking ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
- Combining SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, fluoxetine [Prozac], citalopram [Celexa], paroxetine [Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva) with NSAIDs may increase the likelihood of upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
Is ibuprofen safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies of ibuprofen in pregnant women. Therefore, ibuprofen is not recommended during pregnancy. Ibuprofen should be avoided in late pregnancy due to the risk of premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetal heart.
What brand names are available for ibuprofen?
What else should I know about ibuprofen?
- Tablets: 100, 200, 400, 600, and 800 mg
- Chewable tablets: 50 and 100 mg; Suspension: 100 mg/5 ml and 40 mg/ml
- Intravenous solution: 10 mg/ml, 100 mg/ml
How ibuprofen should be stored
- Ibuprofen should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
OTC and prescription availability
- You need a prescription from your doctor or other healthcare professional to obtain 400 to 800 mg strengths and injection.
- Lower doses of ibuprofen are available over-the-counter (OTC, without a prescription).
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce mild to moderate pain, inflammation, and fever. Ibuprofen works by blocking an enzyme that makes prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance that participates in a variety of body functions), which results in lower levels of prostaglandins in the body. Lower levels of prostaglandins reduce pain, inflammation, and fever.
Ibuprofen is prescribed to treat diseases and conditions that cause mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. For example, Pain from strains and sprains; pain from cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds; muscle aches and pains; tooth pain; common cold; mild headache; some arthritis conditions; joint pain; and to reduce fever.
More serious side effects and adverse effects include, increased bleeding after injury, stomach ulcers, impaired kidney function, severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), blood clots, heart attack, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
The maximum dose prescribed under a doctor's care is 3.2 g daily. Otherwise, the over-the-counter (OTC) maximum daily dose is 1.2 g daily. Dosage depends upon the age, weight, and any current medical conditions of the patient. Several drugs interact with ibuprofen so check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional with questions in regard to this drug. Doctors don't know if it is safe to take ibuprofen if your are pregnant, therefore it is not recommended if you are pregnant. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, ibuprofen is safe to take while breastfeeding.
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.
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- Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Enterovirus (Non-Polio Enterovirus Infection)
- Cold & Flu FAQs
- Headaches FAQs
- Back Pain FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Pain Management Over-The-Counter
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Swine Flu Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Vaccination
- What to Do in a Drug Recall
- Home Remedies for Shingles
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): 17 Warning Signs of Serious Complications
- Can Glucosamine Treat Arthritis?
- Osteoarthritis of the Hands
- Ibuprofen May Block Aspirin's Heart Benefits
- Home Remedies, Treatment, and Prevention of Sprains and Strains
- Herbs: Toxicities and Drug Interactions
- When to Call the Doctor for Fever, Nausea, Diarrhea, Colds, and Coughs
- Bug Bite Treatment
- Pain Relievers and High Blood Pressure
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Ibuprofen (Advil) vs. Naproxen (Aleve): Comparison of Differences
- Tramadol: for Pain (Ultram, Ultram ER, Conzip)
- Ibuprofen vs. Meloxicam (Mobic) for Pain
- Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen for Pain (Differences in Side Effects and Dosage)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- meloxicam (Mobic) Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- nabumetone, Relafen (Discontinued)
- indomethacin, Indocin, Indocin-SR (Discontinued Brand in U.S.)
- erenumab (Aimovig)
- dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
- Ibuprofen and Plavix (Side Effects and Interactions)
- diflunisal, Dolobid
- Aspirin vs. NSAIDs (Side Effect and Use Differences)
- oxaprozin, Daypro
- choline magnesium salicylate, Trilisate
- fenoprofen, Nalfon
- flurbiprofen (Ansaid is a discontinued brand)
- ketoprofen (Discontinued brands: Nexcede, Orudis, Oruvail, Actron)
- OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers
- valdecoxib, Bextra
Prevention & Wellness
- Pfizer Recalls a Type of Children's Advil
- Opioids Given Too Easily to Children: Study
- Advil & Tylenol Better Than Opioids for Dental Pain
- Study Links Ibuprofen With Male Infertility
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Unecessary Opioids, Study Finds
- When Is an Opioid Safe to Take?
- Common Painkillers Tied to Slight Rise in Heart Attack Risk
- Marathon Running May Cause Short-Term Kidney Injury
- Drug No Better Than Placebo for Lower Back, Leg Pain
- Valium May Be Useless for Acute Lower Back Pain
- Kids' OD Risk Rises When Opioids Left Out at Home
- Some Docs May Help Fuel Opioid Abuse Epidemic
- Try Drug-Free Options First for Low Back Pain, New Guidelines Say
- Common Painkillers Don't Ease Back Pain, Study Finds
- Kids Born to Opioid-Addicted Moms Seem to Fare Poorly in School
- Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey
- Kids Landing in ERs After Drinking Parents' E-Cig Nicotine Liquid
- Everyday Pain Relievers May Be Linked to Hearing Loss in Some Women
- Opioids No Better Than Ibuprofen for Pain After Car Crash: Study
- Celebrex May Not Pose Bigger Heart Risk Than Similar Drugs: Study
- Surgery Not the Answer for Most Back Pain, Sports Doctor Says
- Health Tip: Prevent Frequent Nosebleeds
- Number of Americans With Severe Joint Pain Keeps Rising
- Could Prescribed NSAID Painkillers Raise Heart Failure Risk?
- Countless Opioid Pills Unused by Dental-Surgery Patients
- Nanoparticles Ease Aching Joints in Mice
- Codeine Not Safe for Kids, Pediatricians Warn
- Play to Win When It Comes to Kids and Sports Pain
- Kids With Mild Asthma Can Take Acetaminophen: Study
- New Treatments Helping Kids With Juvenile Arthritis
- Over 100 Drugs Pose Risk to Heart Failure Patients
- Beware of Bleeding Risks With Antacids Containing Aspirin
- Nearly All U.S. Doctors 'Overprescribe' Addictive Narcotic Painkillers: Survey
- Acetaminophen Won't Help Arthritis Pain, Study Finds
- Health Tip: Managing a Fever at Home
- Prenatal Acetaminophen Use Tied to Higher Asthma Risk in Kids: Study
- Many Chronic Pain Sufferers May Overuse Nonprescription Painkillers
- Acetaminophen Tops List of Accidental Infant Poisonings
- Try Home Remedies for Child's Cough or Cold
- New Drug for Severe Form of Arthritis Shows Promise in Trial
- People Have Less Faith in Generic Drugs, Study Suggests
- Prepare Yourself for Cold, Flu Season
- Prescription Naproxen as Good as Narcotic Painkillers for Low Back Pain: Study
- Slow Progress on Curbing Wasteful, 'Low-Value' Health Care Practices: Study
- Kids' ER Visits for Medicine Overdoses Dropping: Report
- Low-Dose Aspirin, Other Painkillers May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
- Searing Heat, High Humidity a Threat to Your Health
- Headaches Are Common in Kids, Teens
- Prescription Meds: Too Common in Pregnancy?
- Are We Taking Some Medicines for Too Long?
- Antidepressant, Painkiller Combo May Raise Risk of Brain Bleed
- FDA Strengthens Warning on NSAIDs and Heart Risk
- FDA Strengthens Heart Attack, Stroke Warning for Popular Painkillers
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Narcotic Painkillers, Barbiturates
- Blood Thinner Warfarin May Pose Greater Bleeding Risk for Obese: Study
- Many Americans Under 50 Living With Cold Sore Virus
- Could Taking Acetaminophen Dull Your Happiness?
- Ear Infections Common, But Often Missed, in Infants
- Certain Painkillers May Lower Colon Cancer Risk for Some
- Does Long-Term Acetaminophen Use Raise Health Risks?
- Ways to Treat Depression That Aren't Antidepressants
- Certain Painkillers Ill-Advised After Heart Attack: Study
- Morphine After Tonsillectomy Tied to Breathing Problems in Study
- Study Rates Migraine Medications
- Tips for Steering Clear of Flu
- Knee Arthritis Drugs Beat Placebos, but Study Finds No Clear Winner
- Some Painkillers Tied to Bleeding Risk in Those With Abnormal Heartbeat
- Certain Painkillers Tied to Raised Risk of Death After Stroke
- For a Child's Fracture, Use Ibuprofen, Not Morphine: Study
- Placebo Treatment May Quiet Kids' Cough
- E-Doctors: Virtual Visits Give Patients Options
- Common Painkillers Tied to Blood Clot Risk, Study Suggests
- Tips for Beating BBQ Burns
- More Painkillers May Raise Heart Risks for Older Women: Review
- Chikungunya Virus: Questions and Answers
- Drug Shows Promise Against Arthritis Common in People with Psoriasis
- Use Prescription Painkillers Safely
- It's Better to Prevent a Sunburn Than to Treat One, Dermatologist Says
- Too Much Codeine Still Prescribed to U.S. Kids: Study
- Taking Blood Thinners With Certain Painkillers May Raise Bleeding Risk
- Certain Prescription Painkillers Tied to Higher Risk of Irregular Heartbeat: Study
- Daily Aspirin May Guard Against Ovarian Cancer
- Ibuprofen, Aleve Won't Raise Miscarriage Risk: Study
- Hand Washing, Zinc May Ward Off Colds: Review
- Health Tip: Coping With Strep Throat
- FDA Warns Against Misuse of Laxatives
- Avoiding That New Year's Hangover
- Health Tip: Help Heal a Heel Spur
- Health Tip: Keep a First Aid Kit in the Car
- After Tonsillectomy, Over-the-Counter Painkillers Suffice, Study Says
- Weight-Loss Surgery May Add to Painkiller Dependence, Study Says
- Opioids Not Winning the Battle Against Pain, Study Suggests
- Most Medications OK During Breast-Feeding, Report Says
- FDA Warns of Rare Skin Reactions to Acetaminophen
- High Doses of Common Painkillers May Raise Risk for Heart Trouble
- Common Painkillers Tied to Kidney Risks for Children: Study
- Health Tip: Taking Medications During Pregnancy
- Painkillers Before Exercise May Be Bad for the Gut
- Health Tip: Make Sure Kids Get Enough Water
- Health Tip: Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Pain
- Aspirin May Help Preserve Brain Function in Older Women With Heart Disease
- When Prescription Drugs Go OTC, Ads Talk Less of Harms: Study
- Common Painkillers May Be Risky After Heart Attack
- Health Tip: Caring for an Ingrown Toenail
- Scientists Spot More Migraine Genes
- Can Aspirin, Other NSAIDs Lower Skin Cancer Risk?
- Steroid Nasal Sprays Show Small Benefit for Sinusitis: Study
- Kids Most Likely to Start Abusing Painkillers at 16: Study
- Scientists Spot How Cox-2 Painkillers Raise Heart Risks
- Health Tip: Caring for a Sunburn
- Migraine Guidelines Focus on Prevention
- Ibuprofen May Ward Off Altitude Sickness
- Ice Baths for Sore Muscles Can Work
- Merck to Pay $950M to Settle Probe of Vioxx Marketing
- Long-Term Painkiller Use Linked to Kidney Cancer
- NSAIDs May Raise Miscarriage Risk: Study
- Curry Spice Offers Hope for Tendinitis Pain
- Health Tip: Ease Neck Pain
- New Lupus Treatment Benlysta: FAQ
- NSAID Pain Relievers Raise Heart Risks
- Ear Infections: Antibiotics Often Not Needed
- Tylenol Recalled ... Again
- Acetaminophen: Teen Asthma Trigger?
- FDA: Manufacturing Problems Led to Tylenol Recall
- Recall of Kids' Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, Benadryl
- Pain Relievers May Reduce Cancer Risk
- Anticancer Effects of Aspirin: FAQ
- An American's H1N1 Swine Flu Experience in London: One Patient's Story
- Swine Flu: Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home
- On the Teen Scene: When Mono Takes You Out of the Action
- Muscle Soreness
- Drug Name Confusion: Preventing Medication Errors
- Running: Preventing and Treating Common Running Injuries
- Children's Motrin Recall Alert
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.