What is ibuprofen? Uses, dosage, interactions and side effects

12 September 2019 |   Category: Medicines
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Ibuprofen belongs to the group of non-steroidal painkillers, and is used for the treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and for the relief of flu symptoms. Ibuprofen, discovered in the 1950s, has also antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Our bodies secrete prostaglandins in cases of damage and injury, and these molecules cause pain, edema, fever and inflammation. Ibuprofen inhibits the production of prostaglandins and prevents pain, inflammation and fever in the body.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory) drug used in the treatment of pain and fever. Our bodies secrete prostaglandins in cases of damage and injury, and these molecules cause pain, edema, fever and inflammation. Ibuprofen inhibits the production of prostaglandins and prevents these problems to occur. The World Health Organization defines ibuprofen as one of the most important drugs needed in a basic health system.

Ingredients and forms of ibuprofen

Ibuprofen, which is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential drugs, is a non-steroid pain reliever. The active substance reaches the drug form with various excipients. Ibuprofen has different forms such as capsules, tablets, gels and syrups. It is used with the advice of the doctor according to the condition of the patient and the location of the disease.

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What is ibuprofen good for?

Ibuprofen is pain reliever, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory. Main illnesses include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Menstrual pains
  • Fever and pain
  • Gout arthritis and Osteoarthritis
  • Headache and Migraine
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mild-moderate-severe pain

How to use ibuprofen?

Usage may vary depending on the form of ibuprofen-containing drugs. To get the best response from your treatment, use your medicine as prescribed by your doctor. When using your drug:

  • Take it with food or drink to avoid stomach complaints
  • If you use medicine in a tablet form, do not crush or chew. The active ingredient may irritate your throat.
  • Please note that long-term use may cause heart problems

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Proper use of ibuprofen

  • Oral tablets

Take a glass with water. Use up to 3 or 4 times depending on the severity of the disease. Do not crush or chew your medicine. Otherwise, it may disturb your throat. Take ibuprofen on a full stomach because it can cause stomach sensitization. Always read the instructions before you use it. Use your medicine as prescribed by your doctor.

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The active ingredient may be present alone or in combination with other active ingredients. There are some commercial combinations, especially in those used in cold medicines. Therefore, if you use ibuprofen for cold, do not use any other medication containing ibuprofen for pain relief. This can cause you to overdose and can have dangerous consequences, especially in children.

  • Syrups

Shake them well before each use. Use according to the scale coming out of the package. Drinking water with it does not reduce the effect of the drug.

  • Gel/creams

Gel/cream formulations are widely prescribed to relieve regional pain. Before use, make sure that the painful area is clean and there are no open wounds. After applying the drug, rub it into the skin.

Do not cover it after application. Wash your hands after the application of the drug. Do not apply your medicine to the eyes, lips, mouth, nose or genital area.

  • Injectable forms

They must be administered by a health professional. In case of any possible allergy development, it is vital to apply it in a health facility where emergency response is possible.

If you are allergic to any painkillers (such as aspirin, naproxen, etc.), be sure to inform your healthcare provider. When your doctor prescribes a medication containing ibuprofen, please give information about the vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies you use with or without prescription.

Doses of ibuprofen

Different patients use ibuprofen in different doses. When using your medicine, be sure to use it as described by your doctor. The information below provides only average dose information. If the dose you use is different, do not change your treatment unless your doctor does.

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Oral dose (tablets and syrups)

In the treatment of fever:

  • Children over 2 years of age: Your doctor will decide the use
  • Children between 6 months and 2 years: Your doctor will determine the dose depending on the fever level and weight of the child. 5 mg per kg is usually used in cases of fever below 39.2 °C. In case of a higher fever, 10 mg per kg is used. These doses are given at intervals of 6-8 hours.
  • Babies less than 6 months: Your doctor will decide the use.
  • For menstrual pains: 400 mg is used every 4 hours if necessary.

Mild to moderate pain:

  • Adults and youth: 400 mg every 4-6 hours if needed
  • Children older than 6 months: The dose is determined by doctor based on the body weight. It is usually used as 10 mg per kg every 6-8 hours.
  • Babies less than 6 months: Your doctor will decide the use.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Adults and youth: Total 1200 mg in 3 or 4 doses per day
  • Children: The dose is determined by doctor based on the body weight. It is usually used as 30-40 mg per kg every 6-8 hours.
  • Babies less than 6 months: Your doctor will decide the use.

If you forget the dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you are short of the next dose, skip the dose and continue your routine treatment. Do not take double doses.

How often can you take ibuprofen?

When used in the treatment of short-term pain, use for 1-2 days will be enough. However, in the treatment of chronic pain such as rheumatoid arthritis, it should be used for a long time. If you need treatment for more than 6 months, your physician may choose another painkiller to avoid side effects. It is usually used at intervals of 4-6 hours.

Ibuprofen allergy

Individuals with aspirin allergy may develop an allergy to ibuprofen. Symptoms include:

  • Urticaria
  • Swelling of the face
  • Asthma,
  • Skin rash, itching
  • Water-filled blisters on skin

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If you see one or more of these symptoms, discontinue the drug immediately and consult the nearest health care provider.

If you are going to undergo any operation, even a dental operation, inform your doctor about your use of ibuprofen.

Can ibuprofen upset the stomach?

As with most painkillers, ibuprofen also has a risk of bleeding in the stomach. Especially:

  • In those over 60
  • Patients with previous gastric bleeding or ulcer complaints,
  • In patients using a blood thinner (anticoagulant) or steroid drug,
  • In those using a different painkiller [aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen et al],
  • People who consume excessive alcohol,
  • Those who take the medication longer than recommended may have a risk of stomach bleeding.

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When should ibuprofen not be used?

  • If you have a history of allergy to any painkillers or antipyretics,
  • Do not use the drug before or after heart surgery

In addition:

  • In case of stomach and bleeding problems (ulcers, heartburn, gastritis, pain, etc.),
  • If you use diuretic medication,
  • In case of high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease,
  • If you are 60 years or older, please inform your doctor

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Who should not take ibuprofen?

  • Liver patients: Since some individuals using ibuprofen have reported changes in liver enzymes, liver patients should use medications containing this active substance under the supervision of a physician.
  • Kidney patients: A similar situation applies to kidney patients. They should never use ibuprofen-containing medications without consulting their physicians. Otherwise, kidney function may worsen. Depending on the state of the kidney disease, the doctor will adjust the dose or prescribe an alternative painkiller.
  • Elderly people: There is an increased risk of gastric hemorrhage with the use of ibuprofen in individuals over 60 years of age, who should be supervised by a physician when using ibuprofen.
  • Heart patients: Ibuprofen-containing painkillers should not be used in patients with severe heart failure. It is contraindicated in the treatment of pain in individuals who have undergone or will undergo coronary artery bypass surgery.

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Ibuprofen drug interactions

Ibuprofen may interact with different active substances. Drugs in interaction may reduce each other’s effectiveness or increase the likelihood of side effects. Before taking ibuprofen, remember to ask your pharmacist about drug interactions. Known drug interactions of ibuprofen are as follows:

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • Blood pressure drugs with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor
  • Aspirin and other painkillers
  • Herbal remedies containing Ginkgo biloba
  • Diuretics
  • Blood thinners (warfarin)
  • Antibiotics of the quinolone group
  • Lithium, methotrexate
  • Antidepressant drugs that inhibit serotonin reuptake

Ibuprofen in pregnancy

Ibuprofen should not be used during pregnancy unless prescribed by a physician. It is likely to be preferred by your physician based on the benefit-loss ratio for the first two months of the pregnancy, but should not be used in the last trimester. Painkillers containing paracetamol rather than ibuprofen can be used more safely during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen in pain treatment

The most common area of the use of ibuprofen is pain management. Ibuprofen acts by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis in the body.

Ibuprofen and flu treatment

The active substance of ibuprofen is included in the composition of many influenza drugs. Its pain relief property makes people with cold or flu feel better. It prevents the rise of fever with its antipyretic effect. However, it does not have a direct therapeutic effect on flu, it only relieves the symptoms.

Ibuprofen in the treatment of high fever

Ibuprofen is widely used to reduce fever, especially in children. Fever is a kind of defense mechanism for the body. Therefore, ibuprofen should not be used until fever reaches dangerous limits.

Ibuprofen and arthritis

Ibuprofen is used in high doses in the treatment of arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In arthritis, chemicals called prostaglandins are secreted at high levels in the body. Ibuprofen acts by blocking the enzymes that secrete these substances. It is used for the treatment of different types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, acute gouty arthritis.

Side effects of ibuprofen

As with any other drug, ibuprofen has also side effects. Some of the side effects can be severe. If you observe any of the following side effects, stop using your ibuprofen-containing medication and start using it again only after contacting your doctor.

Common side effects of ibuprofen:

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Serious side effects of ibuprofen:

  • Liver failure or inflammation of the liver
  • Low platelets
  • Blood in urine, urinary tract infection
  • Agranulocytosis (When the bone marrow does not produce enough white blood cells)
  • Anemia
  • Serious and potentially life-threatening skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN)
  • Stroke, heart attack
  • High blood pressure (normally in long-term use and when using some other medications)
  • Kidney damage

If you experience these side effects during the use of ibuprofen, you will certainly need to see a doctor or seek emergency help.


References: 1-Types of ibuprofen, 2-Ibuprofen, 3- Ibuprofen Drug Facts

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