Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It is an effective pain killer and is prescribed in higher doses to relieve inflammation, swelling and stiffness.


Ibuprofen is the active ingredient of Adco-Ibuprofen, Advil, Betagesic, Betaproden, Brufen, Iboflam, Ibugesic, Ibumax, Ibumed, Inza, Nurofen, Ranfen and Sandoz Ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Advil CS, Dontopain, Dentopain Forte, Gen-Payne, Ibucod, Ibumol, Ibupain, Ibupain Forte, Lotem, Mybucod, Mybulen, Mypaid, Mypaid Forte, Myprodol, Nurofen Cold & Flu and Sinutab 3-way.

General information

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It is an effective pain killer and is prescribed in higher doses to relieve inflammation, swelling and stiffness. It is used to provide pain relief in a wide range of conditions ranging from menstrual and dental pain to post-operative pain. It is effective in reducing fever and is also prescribed for the treatment of arthritic conditions such rheumatoid- and osteoarthritis, muscle injury, and acute attacks of gout.

Ibuprofen does not cure the underlying condition responsible for pain, fever or inflammation, but keeps the symptoms under control.

At moderate doses - not exceeding 1.2g a day - ibuprofen appear to have fewer gastrointestinal side-effects than aspirin and many other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It may, however, still cause gastrointestinal irritation, and should be used with caution if you have a stomach ulcer or related disease.

This risk increase the longer you take this medication, or if you are also taking corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) such as warfarin, or if you smoke or consume alcohol while being treated with ibuprofen. To reduce this, it is advised to take this medication with food.

How does ibuprofen work?

Ibuprofen blocks the production of chemicals in the body that are responsible for pain, fever, swelling and inflammation.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 2, 3

Available as: Tablets, film-coated tablets, capsules, slow-release capsules, oral suspension, and as a gel.

What does it do? Ibuprofen reduces pain, fever and inflammation

Overdose risk: Low

Dependence risk: Low

Available as a generic ? Yes

Available on prescription only? No (some do need a script)

User information

Onset of effect: Within 30 minutes.

Duration of action: Up to 8 hours.

Dietary advice: Ibuprofen should be taken with a meal to minimise gastrointestinal irritation.

Stopping this medicine: Unless your doctor has prescribed ibuprofen for long-term use, it can be safely stopped when no longer needed.

Prolonged use: The likelihood of adverse effects increase with prolonged use. Your doctor may perform period liver and kidney function tests, while also examining you for possible gastrointestinal damage.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have asthma,
  • You have a stomach ulcer,
  • You have a bleeding disorder,
  • You are taking blood-thinning medication,
  • You are allergic to aspirin or any other medication, or
  • You are taking other medication.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: This medication is safe to use. You should, however, first discuss with your doctor.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy has not been established for children under the age of 2.

Elderly: Caution is advised as side-effects may be more likely. The dose may need to be adjusted.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how it affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol as it may worsen stomach irritation.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases

Gastrointestinal disorders














Swelling (feet/ ankles)



Rash/ itch



Difficulty breathing



Blood in vomit


Dark tarry stools



Drug interactions:

Blood pressure medication

Reduced pressure-lowering effect


Potential gastrointestinal symptoms


Risk of bleeding

Asthma medication

Reduced effect of asthma medication; risk of asthma attack

Cardiac glycosides, digoxin

Risk that heart failure may be more severe


Potential gastrointestinal symptoms


Potential ibuprofen toxicity


Potential methotrexate toxicity


Potential risk of kidney damage

Blood glucose lowering drugs

Risk of prolonged low blood sugar


Potential baclofen toxicity

Other NSAIDs

Potential risk of gastrointestinal bleeding


Risk of ibuprofen toxicity

Quionolone antibiotics

Risk of seizures


Increased risk of kidney damage


Increased risk of zidovudine toxicity

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have asthma, a stomach ulcer, bleeding disorder, you are taking blood-thinning medication, or if you are allergic to aspirin or any other medication.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 600-1200mg/day in divided doses. Maximum daily dose is 2400mg.

Children: 20mg/kg/day in divided doses (maximum 40mg/kg/day)

Interesting fact

Ibuprofen has shown promising results in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, when given in low doses over a long time.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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