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Ibuprofen (NSAID, Pain Reliever)

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Jul 19, 2022

Ibuprofen is a generic drug that has many brand names. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which works by blocking the cyclooxygenase enzymes that contribute to pain and inflammation.


Know the basics

What is ibuprofen used for?

Ibuprofen is used to relieve pain from various conditions such as headache, dental pain, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, or arthritis. It is also used to reduce fever and to relieve minor aches and pain due to the common cold or flu. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

How should I take ibuprofen?

Read the directions on the packaging for complete information. Check the label and expiration date.

Take ibuprofen by mouth, usually every 4 to 6 hours with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Do not lie down for at least 10 minutes after taking this drug. If you have stomach discomfort while taking this medication, take it with food, milk, or an antacid.

When ibuprofen is used by children, the dose is based on the child’s weight. Read the package directions to find the proper dose for your child’s weight. Consult the pharmacist or doctor if you have questions or if you need help choosing a nonprescription product.

For certain conditions (such as arthritis), it may take up to two weeks of taking this drug regularly until you get the full benefit.

If you are taking this drug “as needed” (not on a regular schedule), remember that pain medications work best if they are used as the first signs of pain occur. Do not wait until pain gets worse, as this can make the drug less effective.

Discontinue using ibuprofen if symptoms of fever do not go away after 3 days or if pain gets worse after 10 days of use.

How do I store ibuprofen?

This product is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store it in the bathroom or the freezer. 

There may be different brands of this drug that may have different storage needs. So, it is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Additionally, it is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using ibuprofen?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if you are/have:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Taking any other medicines. This includes any prescription, OTC, and herbal remedies.
  • An allergy to any of the ingredients of this product.
  • Any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions, especially:
  • Liver disease
  • Dengue fever
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Scheduled for surgery or dental procedures.
  • Is it safe to take ibuprofen during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

    Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C for the first 6 months and D for the last 3 months according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Use an alternative drug that is safer to use during pregnancy.

    FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

    • A=No risk,
    • B=No risk in some studies,
    • C=There may be some risk,
    • D=Positive evidence of risk,
    • X=Contraindicated,
    • N=Unknown

    Know the side effects

    What are the side effects of ibuprofen?

    Like all drugs, this product may have side effects. If they occur, side effects are generally mild and resolve once treatment is finished or the dose is lowered. Some reported side effects include:

    • GI discomfort
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Gassiness or bloating
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Itchiness or rash
    • Blurred vision
    • Tinnitus

    Stop taking ibuprofen and seek medical attention or call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

    • chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;
    • black, bloody, or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
    • swelling or rapid weight gain;
    • urinating less than usual or not at all;
    • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
    • fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
    • bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
    • severe headache, neck stiffness, chills, increased sensitivity to light, and/or seizure (convulsions).

    However, not everyone experiences these side effects. In addition, some people may experience other side effects. So, if you have any concerns about a side effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

    Know the interactions

    What drugs may interact with ibuprofen?

    This medication may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. 

    To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. 

    Drugs with known interactions:

    • Other NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, naproxen)
    • Antihypertensive medications
    • Lithium
    • Diuretics
    • Methotrexate
    • Corticosteroids
    • Anticoagulants or blood thinners

    If you experience an adverse drug interaction, stop taking this drug and continue taking your other medication. Inform your doctor immediately to reevaluate your treatment plan. Approaches include dose adjustment, drug substitution, or ending therapy.

    Does food or alcohol interact with ibuprofen?

    This drug may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

    What health conditions may interact with ibuprofen?

    This drug may interact with underlying conditions. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. Therefore, it is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

    • Anemia
    • Asthma
    • Bleeding problems
    • Blood clots
    • Edema
    • Heart attack
    • Heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease (e.g., hepatitis)
    • Stomach or intestinal ulcers or bleeding
    • Stroke
    • Diabetes
    • Heart surgery (e.g., coronary artery bypass graft [CABG] surgery)

    Understand the Dosage

    The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication.

    What is the dose for an adult?

    Usual Adult Dose for Dysmenorrhea

    200 to 400 mg orally every 4 to 6 hours as needed.

    Usual Adult Dose for Osteoarthritis

    Initial dose: 400 to 800 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours.

    Usual Adult Dose for Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Initial dose: 400 to 800 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours.

    Usual Adult Dose for Headache

    Study (n=34) – Prevention of Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)-induced headache:

    600 mg orally 90 minutes prior to the initial ECT session

    Usual Adult Dose for Pain

    Oral: Mild to moderate pain:

    200 to 400 mg orally every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Doses greater than 400 mg have not been proven to provide greater efficacy.

    IV: (Patients should be well hydrated before IV ibuprofen administration):

    Pain: 400 to 800 mg intravenously over 30 minutes every 6 hours as needed.

    Usual Adult Dose for Fever

    200 to 400 mg orally every 4 to 6 hours as needed.

    Intravenous: (Patients should be well hydrated before intravenous ibuprofen administration):

    Fever: Initial: 400 mg intravenously over 30 minutes

    Maintenance: 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours or 100 to 200 mg every 4 hours as needed.

    What is the dose for a child?

    Usual Pediatric Dose for Fever

    Greater than 6 months to 12 years:

    5 mg/kg/dose for temperature less than 102.5 degrees F (39.2 degrees C) orally every 6 to 8 hours as needed.

    10 mg/kg/dose for temperature greater than or equal to 102.5 degrees F (39.2 degrees C) orally every 6 to 8 hours as needed.

    Usual Pediatric Dose for Pain

    Infants and Children: 4 to 10 mg/kg orally every 6 to 8 hours as needed.

    The recommended maximum daily dose is 40 mg/kg.

    Usual Pediatric Dose for Rheumatoid Arthritis

    6 months to 12 years:

    Usual: 30 to 40 mg/kg/day in 3 to 4 divided doses; start at lower end of dosing range and titrate; patients with milder disease may be treated with 20 mg/kg/day;

    Usual Pediatric Dose for Cystic Fibrosis

    Oral: Chronic (greater than 4 years) twice daily dosing adjusted to maintain serum concentration of 50 to 100 mcg/mL has been associated with slowing of disease progression in pediatric patients with mild lung disease.

    Usual Pediatric Dose for Patent Ductus Arteriosus

    Ibuprofen lysine:

    Gestational age 32 weeks or less, birth weight: 500 to 1500 g:

    Initial dose: 10 mg/kg, followed by two doses of 5 mg/kg after 24 and 48 hours

    How is ibuprofen available?

    Ibuprofen is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

    Drops, oral: 40 mg.mL

    Suspension, Oral: 100 mg/5 mL, 200 mg/5mL

    Tablet, oral: 200 mg

    Softgel capsule, oral: 200 mg, 400 mg

    What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

    In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

    What should I do if I miss a dose?

    If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.



    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Written by

    Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


    Updated Jul 19, 2022

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