Why Take Ibuprofen?
Most commonly, ibuprofen is used to treat fever and pain. It is a particular favorite among pediatricians, who often recommend it to treat fever and pain in children (greater than six months of age). It is also commonly prescribed by many doctors to help alleviate pain in adults, including pain from arthritis, back pain, and pain after surgery.
What Is An NSAID?
Ibuprofen is a particularly potent anti-inflammatory medication. It belongs to the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications that include aspirin, naproxen, and a few others. Its anti-inflammatory properties make ibuprofen useful in the treatment of certain life-threatening inflammatory conditions, such as pericarditis. It is also useful in chronic inflammatory conditions, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Ibuprofen has been formulated (mixed) in a number of different ways. Some are designed to lessen side effects and others have been created to make it easier for people to take the medication. Note that ibuprofen is dispensed as either an over-the-counter medication or a prescription medication. It is available in name-brand and generic products.
- Tablets are the classic formulation for ibuprofen. They are easy to divide for fractional dosing and are usually the least expensive choice. Caplets are similar to tablets, but are smaller. Their smaller size makes them easier to swallow, but also more difficult to divide.
- Coated Tablets help ensure that the pills break apart in the intestine rather than the stomach. These coated tablets may decrease gastrointestinal side effects and are therefore often preferred by individuals who are prone to digestive issues. Coated tablets should not be divided as doing so may diminish their ability to survive in the stomach without breaking apart.
- Liquid gel capsules, chewable tablets, and liquid formulations are also available. The latter two are designed for easy consumption, with liquids being the easiest to measure and dose in young children. Both chewable tablets and liquids can be flavored to make the medication more palatable.
How Much Ibuprofen Should I Take?
Products can contain different amounts and concentrations of ibuprofen, typically between 50 and 800 milligrams of the drug. Over-the-counter products generally come in 100 mg and 200 mg doses. Prescription products may contain 400, 600, or 800 milligram doses. Ibuprofen can also be found in combination medications, such as cough and cold remedies, or mixed with other ingredients, such as caffeine, that are designed to improve the efficacy of the drug in certain conditions. Ask your doctor for advice on how much ibuprofen to take.
How Long Has Ibuprofen Been Around?
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of Essential Medicines that it updates every two years. The list, first published in 1977, currently includes 204 pharmaceuticals that the WHO considers essential to the operation of any basic health care system. Ibuprofen has been on the list of Essential Medicines from day one, which speaks to the importance of this drug that has been on the market for more than fifty years.
What Are the Side Effects of Ibuprofen?
Like all medications, ibuprofen can cause side effects. The most common adverse effects include nausea, upset stomach, bleeding of the stomach, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, and high blood pressure. The rates of adverse effects may increase with prolonged use of the drug.
Individuals with heart, liver, or kidney disease and those with a history of stomach ulcers should consult with their physician before taking ibuprofen. Those with asthma should also talk to a physician. Asthmatics with aspirin-induced asthmatic attacks, nasal polyps, and chronic sinusitis may be at greater risk of adverse effects from ibuprofen. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication. back to top »