Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is available both by prescription and over-the-counter and is available in chewable, tablet, suspension, and liquid capsules. Before deciding to take medication, it is always important to read drug facts and directions for use.
Uses for Ibuprofen
Taking too much medicine can result in minor to serious side effects. Always take medication as prescribed or as directed by a doctor or pharmacist. For mild pains, ibuprofen usually works within 30-60 minutes, but if you’re taking for severe or chronic pain, it may take a week or longer before you start to notice any diminishing pain or discomfort. To lessen the chance of an upset stomach, taking medication with food and water is recommended.
Ibuprofen is used for conditions such as:
- Joint pain
- Menstrual cramps
Ibuprofen is not a cure and will only help reduce symptoms.
The amount of ibuprofen that should be taken will vary in different patients and range depending on the medical condition, strength, number of doses, and amount of time between ibuprofen doses. Here are the average doses for pain and medical conditions:
Ibuprofen for Mild To Moderate Pain
Adults and teenagers – Take 200 to 400mg every four to six hours, as needed. Do not exceed 1200mg per day or take for more than 10 days without the supervision of your doctor.
Children aged 6 months to 12 years – The dose will be based on the child’s body weight and is best determined by your doctor. Though, a weight based dosing chart is typically provided on the over-the-counter medication label. The dose usually is 10mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight every six to eight hours, as needed. Do not exceed four doses per day or 40mg per kg, whichever is less, without the supervision of a medical provider.
Infants younger than six months of age – Ask your doctor for the correct ibuprofen dosage. The dose is weight based as well.
Dogs and Cats – Ibuprofen should never be given to an animal before speaking to a veterinarian. As little as 200mg can become toxic to your furry friends.
Ibuprofen for Fever
Adults and adolescents – Take 200 to 400mg every four to six hours, as needed. Do not exceed 1200mg per day or take for more than 3 days without the supervision of your doctor.
Children 6 months of age up to 12 years – Ibuprofen Dosage is based on body weight. A weight based dosing chart is typically provided on the over-the-counter medication label. Give 10mg per kilogram (kg) per dose every four to six hours, as needed, but do not give more than 400mg per dose. Do not exceed four doses per day or 40mg per kg, whichever is less, without the supervision of a medical provider. Make sure your child is well hydrated prior to administration.
Infants younger than six months of age – Your doctor must determine use and dose.
Ibuprofen for Menstrual Cramps
Adults – Take 400mg every four hours, as needed, or 600 to 800mg every six to eight hours as needed. Do not take more than 3200mg per day.
Children – Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
Ibuprofen for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Adults and teenagers – Take 400 to 800mg every six to eight hours. Do not exceed 3200mg per day for treatment of flares. If taking consistently on a daily basis, some experts recommend not taking more than 2400mg per day over long periods of time.
Children – Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor.
Infants younger than six months of age – Your doctor must determine use and ibuprofen dosage. The dose is weight based.
Dogs and Cats – Do not use unless explicitly directed to by a veterinarian.
Precautions and Side Effects
It is recommended to speak with your doctor about any medication you take to avoid drug interactions and allergies. Knowing medication side effects before use can be helpful to avoid severe complications. If you have kidney disease, ibuprofen may not be right for you. Talk with your doctor or health care provider.
Common & Minor Ibuprofen Side Effects
- Stomach pain, upset stomach, or throwing up
Ibuprofen Side Effects you should call your doctor about right away
- Signs of allergic reaction, like rash, hives, itching
- Signs of bleeding, like throwing up or coughing up blood, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, blood in the urine, black, red, or tarry stools, bleeding or bruising that does not get better or stop bleeding
- Signs of kidney problems, like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine passes, blood in urine, or big weight gain
- Signs of high potassium, like an abnormal heart beet, feeling confused, weak, lightheaded, or dizzy
- Signs of high blood pressure, like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eye sight
If you experience any of the serious side effects listed above after taking ibuprofen, consult your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care.
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“Ibuprofen (Oral Route)” Mayo Clinic, 6 May 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/ibuprofen-oral-route/description/drg-20070602
“Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets” U.S Food and Drug Administration, 6 May 2021, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-pain-relievers-pets#NSAIDs