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Ibuprofen: A Comprehensive Guide to the Popular Pain Reliever

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14 May, 2023
Understanding Ibuprofen: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, and More


Ibuprofen is a prescription medication that belongs to the class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is primarily used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever associated with various health conditions like headaches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, etc., and is one of the most popular and widely used medications. In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of ibuprofen, including its history, mechanism of action, uses, dosages, side effects, and potential risks.

History of Ibuprofen

According to the research done by West Virginia University, the history of Ibuprofen can be traced back to the 1950s when it was first discovered by Dr. Stewart Adams and his team of researchers at Boots Pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom. While looking for a more effective solution to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Adams and his team studied and tested almost 600 compounds and discovered that ibuprofen had significantly more effective and useful anti-inflammatory properties. The drug was first marketed under the brand name Brufen in 1964 and was later approved for use in the United States in 1974 with a different name.

Mechanism of Action of Ibuprofen

As Ibuprofen is NSAID, it works by inhibiting or blocking the production of prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are chemical substances that cause pain, inflammation, and fever.

If we dive deep into the mode of action of ibuprofen, it specifically acts on the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) which is responsible for the production of prostaglandins. There are two types of COX enzymes- COX 1 and COX 2.

COX-1 is found throughout the body and plays a role in protecting the stomach lining and maintaining kidney function. COX-2 is primarily found in areas of inflammation and is responsible for producing prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation. By blocking both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, ibuprofen significantly relieves pain and inflammation throughout the body.

Uses and Benefits of Ibuprofen

Uses and Benefits of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is an NSAID that relieves pain, fever, and inflammation in the body. It can also subsequently helps treat various health conditions associated with these symptoms.

Here is a detailed outlook on the uses and benefits of Ibuprofen-

  • Pain relief: Ibuprofen is used to treat mild to moderate pain like headaches, dental pain, menstrual cramps, and muscle aches. It can also be used to treat more severe pain, such as pain caused by surgery or injury, but only under medical supervision.

  • Inflammation: Ibuprofen is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication and can be used to reduce inflammation in the body. This can be useful for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, and other types of inflammatory conditions.

  • Fever reduction: Ibuprofen is also effective at reducing fever caused by infections, such as the common cold, flu, or other illnesses

  • Dysmenorrhea: Ibuprofen can help relieve menstrual cramps and the pain associated with it, which are caused by the contraction of the uterus. It can also help reduce heavy bleeding during menstruation.

  • Arthritis: Ibuprofen is often used to treat arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness.

  • Sports injuries: Ibuprofen can be used to treat injuries caused by sports or exercise, such as sprains, strains, and other types of muscle and joint injuries by relieving pain and inflammation.

  • Dental pain: Ibuprofen is often used to relieve dental pain, such as toothaches or pain after dental procedures.

  • Back pain: Ibuprofen can help relieve back pain, including lower back pain caused by muscle strain or injury.

  • Gout: Ibuprofen can be used to treat gout, a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints.

Although Ibuprofen is effective in treating the pain, inflammation, and fever associated with the above-mentioned health conditions, it is always advised to consult your healthcare provider in order to understand more about the medication and whether you should take it.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is generally considered safe when used correctly but just like any other prescription medication like medication, it does have its share of common mild to moderate side effects.

Some common side effects of Ibuprofen include-

  • Lightheadedness
  • Skin redness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sore Throat

In rare cases like Ibuprofen overdose or unusual body reactions, Ibuprofen can also cause some serious outcomes which can lead to adverse effects These include:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) health concerns: Ibuprofen, if taken on an empty stomach or in high doses, can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, which can lead to abdominal pain, upset stomach, vomiting, and even intestinal bleeding or ulcers.

  • Cardiovascular risk: Ibuprofen if taken without supervision or considering patient history, may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, especially in people who have a history of heart disease or who take high doses of ibuprofen for a long period of time.

  • Kidney damage: Ibuprofen can damage the kidneys, especially in people who already have kidney disease or who take high doses of ibuprofen for a long period of time.

  • Liver damage: In rare cases, ibuprofen can cause liver damage, especially in people who take high doses of ibuprofen for a long period of time.

  • Increased bleeding risk: Ibuprofen can increase the risk of bleeding, especially in people who take blood-thinning medications or who have bleeding disorders.

In case of the side effects persist for an unusually long time, seek medical attention immediately.

Dosage Recommendations

Ibuprofen is an oral tablet and its correct dosage for ibuprofen varies largely depending on factors like age, weight, and the specific condition being treated. It is always recommended to consult your healthcare professional and follow his or her instruction for the dose adjustments of ibuprofen

However, there are certain general standards of dosage of ibuprofen largely prescribed by healthcare professionals-

Ibuprofen For Adults:

  • Pain relief: The usual adult dose for mild to moderate pain is 200-400 milligrams (mg) every four to six hours as needed. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 1,200 mg.

  • Fever reduction: The usual adult dose for fever reduction is 200-400 mg every four to six hours as needed. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 1,200 mg.

  • Arthritis: The usual adult dose for arthritis is 400-800 mg every six to eight hours as needed. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 3,200 mg.

Ibuprofen For Adults:

It is advised to be highly cautious of the dosage you are giving to children and a proper recommendation from a medical doctor is advised. Generally, the recommended dose is 5-10 mg per kilogram of body weight, every six to eight hours as needed. The dosage should not exceed 40 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Children under six months of age should not be given ibuprofen without first consulting with a healthcare professional.

Drug Interactions with Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a drug interactive medicine which means it can counter-interact with other medicines (including over-the-counter medications, certain dietary supplements, herbal products, etc.) which can increase the risk of side effects or decrease the effectiveness of the medication.

Here are some common drug interactions of ibuprofen:

  • Aspirin: Ibuprofen can reduce the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin when taken together. So, if you are taking aspirin, make sure you let your doctor know beforehand.
  • Blood-thinning medications: Ibuprofen can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners such as warfarin, heparin, or aspirin. If you are taking blood-thinning medications, talk to your healthcare professional before taking ibuprofen.
  • Other pain relievers: Taking other pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or naproxen, with ibuprofen can increase the risk of side effects and other health problems. If you need to take multiple medicines for pain relief, talk to your healthcare professional so that he or she can adjust the dosages accordingly.
  • Steroids: Ibuprofen can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and other side effects when taken with corticosteroids so make sure your doctor knows about all the steroid medications you are consuming.
  • Antidepressants: Ibuprofen can interact with some antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can increase the risk of bleeding.

Safety Precautions To Take For Ibuprofen

Before starting any medication, it is important to know some precautionary measures beforehand. The same is the case with Ibuprofen. Here are some crucial things you need to know before starting the course of Ibuprofen-

  • If you previously had any allergic reactions to any of the NSAIDs, it is strongly recommended to consult your healthcare professional before starting Ibuprofen.

  • If you are a pregnant and breast feeding woman, please consult your doctor before starting the dose of ibuprofen in order to avoid any health risks to yourself and the newborn.

  • Avoid alcohol consumption while taking ibuprofen, as it may increase the risk of stomach bleeding

  • Do not use ibuprofen for more than 10 days for pain or 3 days for fever without consulting a healthcare provider.

  • Prefer taking Ibuprofen with food to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach pain and bleeding. Do not take it on an empty stomach.

  • Consult your healthcare provider before using ibuprofen if you have a history of stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver or kidney problems, or heart disease.

Ibuprofen and Sexual Health

Ibuprofen is not a direct marker to improve sexual health. However, it can indirectly help improve sexual health by reducing pain and inflammation in the pelvic area. Conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and prostatitis can cause chronic pain and inflammation in the pelvic region, which can have a negative impact on sexual function and quality of life. Ibuprofen, as an anti-inflammatory medication, can help to reduce pain and inflammation in these conditions, which may lead to improved sexual health outcomes.

Additionally, ibuprofen can also help relieve menstrual pain and cramps which can help improve sexual health outcomes in women. By reducing pain and discomfort during menstruation, women may be more likely to engage in sexual activity and enjoy it more fully.

But it is extremely important to note here that Ibuprofen should not be taken as a direct treatment for any sexual health concerns. In fact, non-approved ingestion and high doses of Ibuprofen can cause an increased in Erectile Dysfunction in men and decreased fertility and menstrual irregularities in women. So it’s important to be aware and identify the difference as to how to take Ibuprofen and for which health conditions it can be useful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can ibuprofen be addictive?

A: Ibuprofen is not addictive and does not have the potential for abuse. However, it should only be used as directed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Q:Can ibuprofen improve sexual health?

A: While ibuprofen may have some potential benefits for sexual health, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between ibuprofen and sexual health. It should not be used as a substitute for proper medical care and treatment for sexual health issues.

Q: Does ibuprofen have any effect on blood pressure?

A: Ibuprofen can increase blood pressure, particularly in people with high blood pressure. It should be used with caution in people with hypertension and only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Q: How long does it take for ibuprofen to work?

A: In general, ibuprofen is usually absorbed into the bloodstream within 30 minutes to an hour after it is taken, and it can start to relieve pain and reduce fever within that time frame. The full effects of ibuprofen may not be felt until a few hours after it is taken. However, the time frame varies from person to person.

Q: What if I miss a dose of Ibuprofen?

A: If you miss a dose of ibuprofen, you should take it as soon as you remember. However, do not take double doses or multiple doses at the same time. In case you are very close to the next dose, it is best to skip the missed dose.


Overall, Ibuprofen is an effective NSAID medication that can be used to alleviate pain, inflammation, and fever and is also used to treat associated health conditions. Along with taking the correct and consistent dose of Ibuprofen, it is also important to follow a healthy diet and maintain an active lifestyle.

Disclaimer: Any information provided is for educational or informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions or concerns about a particular medication or treatment, please consult with a licensed healthcare provider who can evaluate your individual situation and provide personalized recommendations. It is important to always follow the instructions of your healthcare provider and read the medication label before taking any medication.

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