The People's Perspective on Medicine



Ibuprofen is a pain reliever used primarily for arthritis.

It may also be prescribed for menstrual cramps, bursitis, tendinitis, sprains, strains and other painful conditions. It belongs to a class of medications commonly called NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

It is now available generically (and over the counter), but previously it was one of the most popular arthritis drugs on the market under the brand name Motrin.

Ibuprofen may be prescribed generically or by brand names such as Children’s Advil, Ibu-TabMotrin or Rufen. It is also available without prescription under such names as Advil, Bayer Select Pain Relief, Medipren, Nuprin or Motrin IB, among others.

Side Effects and Interactions

Unquestionably the most common side effects of ibuprofen involve the gastrointestinal tract. They include nausea, indigestion, heartburn, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.

Some people may develop ulcers and intestinal bleeding while taking this medication. Occasionally these problems can occur without obvious symptoms and lead to a life-threatening crisis due to perforation of the stomach lining. Older people appear to be more susceptible to this problem and should be monitored carefully.

Warning signs include weight loss, persistent indigestion, a feeling of fullness after moderate meals, dark or tarry stools, anemia and unusual fatigue.

Home stool tests such as Hemoccult or Fleet Detecatest may provide an early indication of bleeding.

Other side effects to be alert for include headache, ringing in the ears, rash, itching, nervousness, fluid retention and loss of appetite. Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and confusion are possible, so do not drive if you become impaired.

Less common adverse reactions include insomnia, heart palpitations, hair loss, depression, tiredness, anemia or other blood changes, fever, visual disturbances, meningitis and sores in the mouth.

Some people might become sensitive to sunlight while on ibuprofen, so use an effective sunscreen or stay well covered. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Ibuprofen can affect both the kidney and liver, so periodic blood tests to monitor the function of these organs are important for anyone on this drug long-term.

This medication can adversely interact with many other drugs. A person taking a blood thinner like Coumadin may become far more vulnerable to a dangerous bleeding ulcer.

Aspirin may reduce the effectiveness of ibuprofen for reducing inflammation.

All the NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, can make methotrexate (Folex, Mexate, Rheumatrex) and lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, etc.) far more toxic.

Other potentially serious interactions may occur with ibuprofen reducing the effectiveness of ACE inhibitor blood pressure medicines such as AltaceLotensinor Vasotec, beta-blocker blood pressure drugs like CorgardInderal LAor Tenormin, and diuretics such as BumexDyazideLasix or Maxzide.

Hemorrhage with the combination of ginko and aspirin has been reported. We advise against combining arthritis medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) with ginkgo biloba extract.

Licorice  binds to serum albumin and may interact with medications that bind to serum albumin, such as ibuprofen.

Check with your pharmacist and physician to make sure ibuprofen is safe in combination with any other drugs or herbs you take.

Special Precautions with Ibuprofen

People who are allergic to aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents should avoid ibuprofen.

Signs of allergy include breathing difficulties, rash, fever, or a sudden drop in blood pressure and require immediate medical attention.

Taking Ibuprofen

Because this medication can be hard on the digestive tract, it may be taken with food to reduce tummy trouble. This does not guarantee, however, that the drug will be safe for the stomach. Alcohol may contribute to indigestion, ulcers and irritation and should be avoided.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I Have been taking 400mg for a shoulder fracture and subluxation for at least 3months.

I don’t have an appetite I also have like a sharp pain in my upper stomach area, no bleeding i feels like indigestion.

Help please x

I was put on large doses of ibuprofin (3200mg daily) for almost 6 months. It got to a point where it no longer had any effect for the pain (3 herniated discs). I finally found an osteopath and can honestly say I have not taken Ibuprofin since. If I have been ibuprofin free for the past 2 years, will the long term effects subside?

I recently had a kidney infection. They still found traces of blood in my urine a week after I stopped taking the antibiotics. Any suggestions as to what to do besides drinking herbal tea for kidneys?

Can ibuprofen raise your blood pressure?

Ibuprofen is great for my inflammatory pains and stress headaches, but I wonder if I’m the only person who gets really, really bad and stinky gas when I take it? I’m talking about bags and bags of seriously eye-watering, sulphurous wind that lasts for hours after I take Advil. I’m practically jet-propelled right now and have to leave the windows open.

On xmas night I started my period so I chewed 2 400g of ibuprofen like I always do but this time after chewing them it gave me a very bad tummy so I went to bed. I woke up almost throwing up 5 times at 8am, this is bad because I have a phobia of feeling and being sick. Its been 2 almost 3 days later and I still have a tummy ache, feeling cold but sweating, gassy, peeing and crapping a lot even though I haven’t eaten of drank hardly in two days because of my appetite loss. My mouth tastes like sick even though I haven’t thrown up, cramps but that might be from the period, can’t stop burping and I’m shaking uncontrollably. I bled heavy on my first day or my period which never happens. My hands are constantly clammy. All of this from taking 2 tablets. How long does side effects meant to last?

I’ve recently had severe neck pain for approx 2 weeks, to which I have been taking nurofen with codeine. Recently I have been experiencing severe stomach discomfort and cramps after exercising. I no longer am taking anything but should I be concerned?

I’m a 36 year old female & I’ve been taking 800mg 3-4 times a day for over a week for a broken rib, after 3 days I noticed quite a bit of fluid retention around my stomach & thighs & since day 7 I’ve been itching all over, all day long & it’s keeping me up at night. Should I call my doc? I’m down to only taking it once a day but can’t stand the itching & bloated water retention feeling. Thank you :)

I have been taking ibuprofen 800 for about 2 years/3x daily prescribed by Dr. I have arthritis/tendonitis in both upper arms and shoulders I never took them 3x’s only once a day at first and gradually since a year 1 in the am and 1 in the pm. Now my Dr. wants me to not take them anymore because he doesn’t want my kidneys damaged and neither do I.

They really helped. Now he gave me some Tramadol 50mg and I don’t like them and I don’t really think they work because I still hurt and I still work daily. HELP!!!!!!!!

I’ve been taking 800mg ibuprofen for several years and I noticed that I was very irritable and I had terrible headaches/migraines almost once a week. I would also get very dizzy and very sweaty. I’m pretty sure I somehow became intolerant. I’ve been off of it for about 3 months and even though I’m in pain still, I feel like I’m my old self again.

I had a hip replaced 6 weeks ago. I was on a blood thinner injection for five weeks after that. Now that I’m finished with the blood thinner, can I take advil?

I have terrible toothaches that have been causing headaches. I’ve been taking Advil 200mg, I bought a bottle of 100 capsules. It’s been about 4 weeks now, I’ve taken between 3-4 pills daily, I have about 7 pills remaining. This morning I woke up to feeling like I was going to throw up. This is the first time I had that feeling while of the medication. Should I be concerned?

This dose of ibuprofen is too high to take indefinitely. It is time to check in with the dentist and the doctor.

Hi I took one ibuprofen 800 mg. I asked my dr because I take high blood pressure medicine and because of a sprain ankle he prescribed that. All I took was one, has risen my blood pressure, and diarrhea, and stomach cramping. I didn’t take any more. But how long does it takes to get out of my system and everything back to normal? Thanks

For the first time I registered high blood pressure and I put it down to the Ibuprofen that I was given for shingles. Won’t ever take it again. Blood pressure back to normal

Using this in gel form on my right hand to relieve joint pain causes blood mottling (as if capillaries are broken.) Is this dangerous and should I stop using Ibuproven in this form?

Hi. Nice site here. I’ve been taking ibuprofen for pain 3-4 times a week for approx two years. Finally MRI revealed cervical bulges (two) and tendinopathy in right shoulder. Spine surgeon said to take 2,400 mg of motrin once a day (800 mg tabs 3x a day) for two weeks.
I’m concerned as I read more about how much I’ve been taking, what my actual problem is now that it’s been diagnosed, and how much I’ve been told to take.
I have already a very sedentary lifestyle and job, but I’m only 45. Any input?
Thank you.

I had surgery on June and was told it was OK to take 600-800 mg Ibuprofen per day post op. I did this for 3 months and now I have an abnormal albumin (4.2) urine test. could this be from all of the Ibuprofen? and do I need to be concerned about my kidneys? What can I do to improve this?

I took ibuprofen for 3 weeks then got diarrhea so stopped for 5 days, now am back on it again but am going to toilet, no.2’s 4 times a day with the diarrhea. Should I stop or is this ok?

Hello I recently had surgery 2 days ago for ligament replacement in my foot they have given me ibuprofen and co-codamol and ever since I have had quite bad indigestion and I haven’t had a poo since before my my operation and I was wondering if this has anything to do with the medication I’m on or is it the anesthetic?

I also took some motrin 800 while on my menstrual cycle now I have the worst indigestion I ever. I can’t sleep because the pain is so bad. Should I consult my doctor?

Definitely make sure to take it with food, but other than that Ibuprofen works miracles for me. I fractured my elbow a few years back and instead of giving me pain meds, my doctor told me to take four ibuprofen, three times a day! Probably a lot, but did the trick…

I have osteoarthritis – have had 14 orthopedic surgeries – hands, wrists, both shoulders, three back surgeries, knee surgery, knee replacement – all so that I can continue to function. Many years ago I took 2400 mg of ibuprofen daily for several years (under the care of a great rheumatologist) and was able to function very well without any pain. Eventually, I stopped ibuprofen because my stomach was upset most of the time although I experienced no bleeding.
Ibuprofen is the only drug I’ve taken that helps with the joint pain, especially my back. About six months ago I started taking it again – about 1200 to 1400 mg daily and I am almost without pain most of the time. I am careful about always taking it in the middle of a meal. I hope I can continue.

While using ibuprofen I experienced several occasions of visual disturbances and then an unexplained seizure. (no prior history) same thing happened to my daughter 6 months before. Doctors all say”impossible. No relationship.” but no more ibuprofen and no more seizures or visual disturbances. Anybody with similar experiences?

I took ibuprofen for about 7 days straight when I had my period. (TMI) sorry.
A day after when I stopped taking it I had really bad indigestion for the next few days. Along with other stomach issues. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to stuff like this. I just want to make sure I will be okay?

Hello- I took ibuprofen for a total of 8 days for tooth pain while I had dental work. I usually took anywhere from 200 to 600 mg per day, but one day I took 1000 mg over 24 hours. On the last day I took 200mg and I had some stomach pain so I stopped taking it. Its been not quite two days and I still have some indigestion.
I have not noticed any blood in my stool at all. Should I be very worried? Is the indigestion simply a side effect that will go away or should I be worried about a stomach ulcer? Thank you.

PROBLEM WITH MOTRIN IB ON JAN. 10, 2010: I took 3 Motrin IB caplets as directed in one day (for back pain) and the next day I noticed three very small droplets of blood in the toilet (on some toilet paper)– after I urinated. They seemed to have come out of me in my urine stream looking like little “shreds” of material. Could this have something to do with the recall of Tylenol and Motrin products due to contamination this month (Jan. 15, 2010?)? All the numbers match with the exception of the lot numbers.

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