Ibuprofen is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieves minor aches and pains and reduces fever. It also is available in prescription-strength medicines. Ibuprofen is part of a group of pain relievers and fever reducers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. It may be written as ibuprofen sodium or solubilized ibuprofen, but it is the same active ingredient.
Ibuprofen can be the only ingredient in oral pain relievers and fever reducers or it can be found in medicines that treat migraines. It also is 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, or symptoms associated with menstruation.
Ibuprofen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to label directions. You should never take more ibuprofen or for a longer period of time than the label instructs unless your doctor 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.
*Ibuprofen may not be contained in all products marketed under these brands. Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products.
- 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 (aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen).
- You should carefully read and follow the label directions.
- Taking more medicine than the label says or for longer than the label says can cause health risks.
- If stomach upset occurs, you may take the medicine with milk or food.
- 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 doctor 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.
- You are currently using another medicine containing an NSAID (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 doctor’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 doctor’s care for any serious condition.
- You are taking aspirin for heart attack or stroke. Ibuprofen may decrease this benefit of taking aspirin.
- 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 if you 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 doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Ibuprofen-containing medicines are available in different dosage strengths. Do not give an OTC medicine containing ibuprofen to a child that is only intended for use in adults.
- Read the label for proper child dosing instructions. Contact a healthcare professional as directed.
- For liquid medicines, only use the dosing device that comes with the medicine.
- Talk to a doctor 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.
- If your child has a severe sore throat that lasts for more than two days, is accompanied or followed by high fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting, contact a healthcare professional immediately.
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