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Ibuprofen: What you should know about side effects

Ibuprofen is used to treat painful and inflammatory conditions and to treat fever. It is available without a doctor’s prescription so you can buy it over the counter from pharmacies and other outlets, such as supermarkets or newsagents. However, you still need to be aware of the possible side effects and when you should not take ibuprofen. If you have any medical conditions or if you are taking any other medicines, speak to your pharmacist or doctor before taking ibuprofen.

What it does

Ibuprofen belongs to a group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs). It works by blocking the production of some of the body chemicals that cause inflammation, pain, stiffness, tenderness, swelling and increased temperature. It can be used for headaches, rheumatic and muscular pain, backache, migraine, period pain, dental pain, pain from non-serious arthritic conditions, and neuralgia (nerve pain). It can also be used to reduce fever and relieve the symptoms of cold and flu.

Ibuprofen can cause a number of side effects. For this reason, take the lowest possible dose of ibuprofen for the shortest possible time needed to control your symptoms. Read carefully the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication. If you feel unwell after taking ibuprofen or are worried about an ibuprofen side effect, seek advice from your GP or pharmacist, or call an NHS helpline.

Common side effects of ibuprofen include:

Less common side effects include:

Increased risks

Taking ibuprofen, especially at high doses over long periods of time, can increase your risk of:

Other precautions

  • Pregnancy - if you are pregnant you should only take this medication if your doctor thinks that you need it.
  • Fertility - ibuprofen is not recommended for women who are trying to conceive because long-term use might be associated with reduced fertility. This is usually reversible when you stop taking ibuprofen. Occasional use is unlikely to affect fertility.
  • Breastfeeding - as the drug may pass into breast milk, you should not take ibuprofen while you are breastfeeding.

Other medication

If you are taking more than one medication, they may interact with each other. If you are taking prescribed medication, you should tell your prescriber about any medications you have bought over the counter without a prescription. Ibuprofen may interact with the following medications:

The following types of medication may interact with Ibuprofen:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antiplatelets
  • Cardiac glycosides
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cox-2 inhibitors
  • Diuretics
  • Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Quinolones
  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Drugs can also interact with complementary preparations and vitamins. If you are planning to take, or are already taking any complementary preparations and vitamins you should ask your pharmacist whether there are any known interactions with ibuprofen.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 05, 2017

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