ibuprofen (NSAID)

Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022

Generic Name: ibuprofen

Brand Names: Advil, Motrin, PediaCare Children's Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB, PediaCare Infant's Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB

Drug Class: NSAIDs, Patent Ductus Arteriosus Agents

What is ibuprofen, and what is it used for?

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat inflammation, fever and mild to moderate pain from conditions such as common cold, headache, toothache, menstrual cramps, muscular pains, and joint pain and inflammation (arthritis).

Intravenous ibuprofen is used to treat patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a condition in newborn babies in which a fetal connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery that normally closes at birth, remains open.

Ibuprofen works by blocking the activity of enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2), essential for biosynthesis of prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are fatty compounds that regulate many processes in the body including inflammation, blood flow and clotting processes, smooth muscle function, and female reproductive cycle.

By inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, ibuprofen:

  • Inhibits the movement and aggregation of inflammatory cells
  • Inhibits the release of proinflammatory proteins (cytokines)
  • Inhibits platelet aggregation, interfering with blood clotting function
  • Promotes the closure of patent ductus arteriosus

Lower dosages of ibuprofen to treat minor pains are available over the counter, while dosages of 400 mg and above require prescription. Ibuprofen is used to treat the following:




  • Do not take/administer ibuprofen if you/they have hypersensitivity to ibuprofen, aspirin or other NSAIDs
  • Do not administer ibuprofen to preterm infants with:
    • Untreated proven or suspected infection
    • Bleeding with active intracranial hemorrhage or gastrointestinal (GI) bleed
    • Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
    • Coagulation defects
    • Proven or suspected intestinal inflammation (necrotizing enterocolitis)
    • Significant renal impairment
    • Congenital heart disease where patency of the ductus arteriosus is necessary for pulmonary or systemic blood flow
  • Do not use for perioperative pain in coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery

Cardiovascular risk:

Gastrointestinal risk:

  • Ibuprofen can cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events, including bleeding, ulceration, and gastric or intestinal perforation, which can be fatal
  • GI adverse events may occur at any time during use and without warning symptoms
  • Elderly patients are at greater risk for serious GI events

What are the side effects of ibuprofen?

Common side effects of ibuprofen may include:

Less common side effects may include:

Rare severe side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of ibuprofen?


  • 100mg
  • 200mg
  • 400mg (Rx)
  • 600mg (Rx)
  • 800mg (Rx)


  • 200mg

Tablet, chewable

  • 50mg
  • 100mg

Oral suspension

  • 100mg/5mL
  • 40mg/mL



  • Over-the-counter (OTC): 200-400 mg taken orally once every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 1.2 g unless directed by a physician
  • Prescription: 400-800 mg taken orally or intravenously (IV) once every 6 hours

Inflammatory Disease

  • 400-800 mg taken orally once every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 3.2 g/day


  • 300 mg, 400 mg, 600 mg, or 800 mg taken orally once every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 3.2 g/day
  • Monitor for gastrointestinal (GI) risks

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • 300 mg, 400 mg, 600 mg, or 800 mg taken orally once every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 3200 mg/day
  • Monitor for GI risks

Dosage Modifications

  • Significantly impaired renal function: Monitor closely; consider reduced dosage if warranted
  • Severe hepatic impairment: Avoid use



  • Children 6 months to 12 years: 5-10 mg/kg/dose taken orally once every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 40 mg/kg/day 


  • 4-10 mg/kg/dose taken orally once every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 40 mg/kg/day

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

  • 30-50 mg/kg/24 hours taken orally once every 8 hours; not to exceed 2.4 g/day

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

  • See ibuprofen IV (intravenous) drug monograph

Cystic Fibrosis (Off-label)

  • Younger than 4 years: Safety and efficacy not established
  • 4 years of age and older: taken orally once every 12 hours, adjusted to maintain serum levels of 50-100 mcg/mL; may slow disease progression in younger patients with mild lung disease

Dosing Considerations

  • The potential toxic dose in children younger than 6 years is 200 mg/kg


  • Overdose must be treated with symptomatic and supportive care, such as administering activated charcoal and/or inducing vomiting (emesis).
  • It may be beneficial to administer alkali and increase urine output because ibuprofen is acidic and is excreted in the urine.

What drugs interact with ibuprofen?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of ibuprofen in pregnancy, labor and delivery.
  • Avoid using ibuprofen up to 20 weeks of gestation. Animal studies indicate an increased risk for loss of pregnancy in early stages because ibuprofen inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandin.
  • Limit dose and duration of use between about 20 and 30 weeks of gestation.
  • Avoid ibuprofen use at about 30 weeks of gestation and later in pregnancy, it may cause premature closure of ductus arteriosus and fetal renal dysfunction.
  • No lactation studies have been conducted. Ibuprofen may be excreted in breast milk at extremely low levels. Ibuprofen has a short half-life and is considered safe in infants in doses much higher than those excreted in breast milk.

What else should I know about ibuprofen?

  • Ibuprofen can cause fluid retention and edema and must be used with caution in patients with edema or congestive heart failure.
  • Long-term administration of NSAIDs may result in kidney damage or injury; patients at the greatest risk include elderly individuals, those with impaired renal function, low blood volume (hypovolemia), heart failure, liver dysfunction, or salt depletion; and those taking medication such as diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers.
  • NSAIDS, except aspirin, increase risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, which can be fatal; the risk is higher if patients use more than it was directed or for longer than needed.
  • Use with caution in asthma (bronchial), cardiac disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), hepatic or renal impairment, hypertension, bleeding disorders, duodenal/gastric/peptic ulcer, stomatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ulcerative colitis, upper GI disease, late pregnancy (may cause premature closure of ductus arteriosus).
  • Fever, rash, abdominal pain, nausea, liver dysfunction, and meningitis have occurred in patients with collagen-vascular disease, especially SLE.
  • Ibuprofen (Junior Advil) for children may cause severe and persistent sore throat.
  • Higher than recommended doses may cause stomach bleeding in children.
  • Ibuprofen may increase the risk of elevated potassium in blood (hyperkalemia), especially in renal disease, patients with diabetes, the elderly, and when used simultaneously with other medications capable of inducing hyperkalemia.
  • Ibuprofen can cause severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
  • Ibuprofen may cause drowsiness and dizziness; may impair ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.
  • Ibuprofen may cause blurred vision, partial loss of vision/blind spot or changes in color vision.
  • Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) has been reported in patients taking NSAIDs, some of which have been fatal or life-threatening. DRESS may present with fever, rash, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), and/or facial swelling.


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat inflammation, fever, and mild to moderate pain caused by the common cold, headache, toothache, menstrual cramps, muscular pains, and joint pain and inflammation (arthritis). Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal (epigastric) pain, heartburn, abdominal distress, diarrhea, indigestion (dyspepsia), constipation, abdominal cramps, bloating and flatulence, dizziness, headache, nervousness, and others. Consult your doctor before taking ibuprofen if pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022