Ibuprofen is in a group of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen is used to treat different types of pain such;
- Mild to moderate pain such as headache, menstrual pain
- Dental pain such as toothache
- Fever when someone has malaria, flu
- Swollen, red and tender tissues (inflammation)
- Rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and gout
Types of ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is available in many forms, including:
- gels or creams
In some products ibuprofen is combined with other ingredients.
- Ibuprofen is available in different brands and strengths.
- The lower strength (200 mg) tablets can be bought from a supermarket or over-the-counter from a pharmacy.
- The higher strength tablets (400 mg, 600 mg, 800 mg) tablets can only be bought on prescription from a pharmacy.
- The usual dose for adults is 200 mg to 400 mg 3 or 4 times daily if needed.
- Do not take more than 1200 mg per day without checking with your doctor.
- Use the lowest dose that works for you and stop as soon as you can.
- Always follow the directions on the package or pharmacy label. If you are unsure about how much to take, check with your pharmacist.
How to take ibuprofen
Use ibuprofen exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Use the lowest dose that is effective in treating your condition. A child’s dose of ibuprofen is based on the age and weight of the child. Carefully follow the dosing instructions provided with your child’s medicine for the age and weight of your child. Ask a doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.
- Take brufen with food or immediately after food, to prevent stomach upset.
- Take brufen with a full glass of water.
- Swallow the tablets whole. Do not crush or chew them.
- Usually you may only need to take it for a short period of time, while you have pain or swelling.
- Limit or avoid alcohol while you are taking the medicine. Alcohol can increase the risk of side effects.
- It is not harmful if you miss your ibuprofen dose. If you miss a dose, take it when you remember, with or after food. Do not take double the dose.
Ibuprofen can increase your risk of fatal heart attack or stroke, especially if you use it long term or take high doses, or if you have heart disease. Do not use this medicine just before or after heart bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG).
Ibuprofen may also cause stomach or intestinal bleeding, which can be fatal. These conditions can occur without warning while you are using ibuprofen, especially in older adults.
Do not take more than your recommended dose. An ibuprofen overdose can damage your stomach or intestines. Use only the smallest amount of medication needed to get relief from your pain, swelling, or fever.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since ibuprofen is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, ibuprofen can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine. Stop using ibuprofen and call your doctor at once if you have:
- changes in your vision;
- shortness of breath (even with mild exertion);
- swelling or rapid weight gain;
- the first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild;
- signs of stomach bleeding such as bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
- liver problems such as nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
- kidney problems such as little or no urinating, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath;
- low red blood cells (anemia) such as pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating; or
- severe skin reaction – fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Common ibuprofen side effects may include:
- upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting;
- bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation;
- dizziness, headache, nervousness;
- mild itching or rash; or
- ringing in your ears.