Ibuprofen is an NSAID, which is a type of medication with analgesic, fever-reducing and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory properties. The World Health Organization (WHO) includes ibuprofen on its list of essential medicines. The list states the minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system.
Other types of pain relief medication are steroids and narcotics, or opioids. NSAIDs are safer than both of these, as long-term steroid use can have severe adverse effects, and taking opioids can result in improper use. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are well-known NSAIDs, partly because they are available over the counter at pharmacies.
Ibuprofen reduces pain, fever, swelling, and inflammation by blocking the production of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. The body releases these substances in response to illness and injury. If a person takes ibuprofen by mouth, they should notice the effects after 20–30 minutes.
What side effects can Ibuprofen cause?
Ibuprofen may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- gas or bloating
- ringing in the ears
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, or those mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately. Do not take any more ibuprofen until you speak to your doctor.
- unexplained weight gain
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- swelling of the abdomen, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- swelling of the eyes, face, throat, arms, or hands
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- excessive tiredness
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- loss of appetite
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- flu-like symptoms
- pale skin
- fast heartbeat
- cloudy, discolored, or bloody urine
- back pain
- difficult or painful urination
- blurred vision, changes in color vision, or other vision problems
- red or painful eyes
- stiff neck
Ibuprofen may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Can I use ibuprofen (advil, motrin) during breastfeeding?
Because of its extremely low levels in breastmilk, short half-life and safe use in infants in doses much higher than those excreted in breastmilk, ibuprofen is a preferred choice as an analgesic or antiinflammatory agent in nursing mothers.
As a result when pain, inflammation, or fever management is necessary, ibuprofen is considered safe for nursing mothers and babies. As with many medicines, traces of the over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever may be transferred to your infant through your breast milk.
In addition, stop taking nonprescription ibuprofen and call your doctor if your symptoms get worse, you develop new or unexpected symptoms, the part of your body that was painful becomes red or swollen, your pain lasts for more than 10 days, or your fever lasts more than 3 days. Stop giving nonprescription ibuprofen to your child and call your child’s doctor if your child does not start to feel better during the first 24 hours of treatment. Also stop giving nonprescription ibuprofen to your child and call your child’s doctor if your child develops new symptoms, including redness or swelling on the painful part of his body, or if your child’s pain or fever get worse or lasts longer than 3 days.
What other information should I know?
If you are taking prescription ibuprofen, do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.