Ibuprofen (ibuprofen sodium, solubilized ibuprofen)

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fevers. It is also available in prescription-strength medicines. Ibuprofen is part of a group of pain relievers and fever reducers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Ibuprofen can be the only ingredient in oral pain relievers and fever reducers or it can be found in medicines that treat migraines. It is also available in medicines that not only relieve pain or reduce fever, but treat additional symptoms as well, such as occasional sleeplessness, allergies, the multiple symptoms of the common cold, and symptoms associated with menstruation.

What is ibuprofen used to treat?

  • Minor aches and pains
  • Fever
  • Allergies
  • Symptoms associated with the common cold
  • Symptoms associated with menstruation
Common brands containing ibuprofen:
  • Advil®
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much ibuprofen can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. You should never take more ibuprofen or for a longer period of time than the label instructs unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Certain health risks such as heart attack, stroke, or stomach bleeding may increase if you use more than directed or for longer than directed.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You are currently using another medicine containing an NSAID (e.g., aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen).
  • You are taking a blood thinner (anticoagulant), steroid, diuretic, or any other drug.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women in the last three months of pregnancy are specifically told not to use ibuprofen or any NSAID without a healthcare provider’s permission.
  • You are over the age of 60.
  • You have had stomach ulcers or bleeding problems.
  • You drink three or more alcoholic drinks every day.
  • You are under a healthcare provider’s care for any serious condition.
  • You are taking aspirin for heart attack or stroke. Ibuprofen may decrease this benefit of taking aspirin.
  • You are unsure about child dosing instructions. Read the label and contact your healthcare provider as directed.
  • Before giving ibuprofen to a child if the child has not been drinking fluids, has lost a lot of fluid due to vomiting or diarrhea, or is taking a diuretic.

Do not use if:

  • You are preparing to have heart surgery or if you just had heart surgery.
  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to any other pain reliever or fever reducer.
  • You are a woman in the last three months of pregnancy, unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to. Problems in the unborn child or complications during delivery could occur.
  • Tamper-evident packaging features such as seals, locks, and films are not clear or seem broken.
  • Do not give ibuprofen to children under six months of age.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • An allergic reaction occurs. Seek medical help right away.
  • Your fever gets worse or lasts more than three days, or if your pain gets worse and lasts more than 10 days.
  • You have signs of stomach bleeding, such as if you feel faint, vomit blood, have stomach pain or upset that lasts or does not get better, or have bloody or black stools.
  • Redness or swelling is present in the painful area or if any new symptoms appear.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • If your child has a severe sore throat that lasts for more than two days, or is accompanied or followed by high fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting.

What are the side effects of ibuprofen?

  • Ibuprofen, like other NSAIDs, may cause a severe allergic reaction, especially in people allergic to aspirin. Symptoms may include hives, facial swelling, asthma (wheezing), shock, skin reddening, rash, or blisters.
  • Severe stomach bleeding may occur. The chance is higher if you are age 60 or older; have had stomach ulcers or bleeding problems; or if you are taking a blood thinner (anticoagulant), steroid drug, or other medicines containing NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen).
  • If upset stomach occurs, you may take the medicine with milk or food.