Ibuprofen was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1974 and is classified within a group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other medications within this category are aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen) and several others. These drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation promoted by the release in the body of chemicals called prostaglandins. Ibuprofen blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower levels of prostaglandins.
Ibuprofen can be dispensed as a prescription drug or purchased over the counter depending on the dosage needed. Ibuprofen tablets are available in 200, 400, 600, and 800 mg; Chewable tablets consist of 50 and 100 mg; capsules of 200 mg; suspension of 100 mg/2.5 ml and 100 mg/5 ml; and oral drops consist of 40 mg/ml. When under the care of a physician, the maximum dose of ibuprofen recommended is 3.2 g daily. Otherwise, the maximum dose is 1.2 g daily when self-treating. Individuals should not use ibuprofen for more than 10 days for the treatment of pain or more than 3 days for the treatment of a fever unless directed by a physician. Children ages 6 months to 12 years of age are usually given 5–10 mg/kg of ibuprofen every 6–8 hours for the treatment of fever and pain and up to 40 mg/kg for juvenile arthritis. Ibuprofen should always be taken with food and plenty of water to avoid stomach upset.
Common side effects of ibuprofen are rash, ringing in the ears, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. Ibuprofen should not be taken by anyone currently prescribed blood thinners such as coumadin because it can cause excessive bleeding after an injury. Ibuprofen may cause ulceration of the stomach or intestine, and the ulcers may bleed. Sometimes, ulceration can occur without abdominal pain, and cause weakness, and dizziness upon standing due to bleeding and may be the only tell tale signs of an ulcer. An added precaution to those who suffer from kidney distress is that Ibuprofen reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys and impairs function of the kidneys, most likely to occur in patients who already have impaired function of the kidney or congestive heart failure. There are no adequate studies to suggest that pregnant mothers are at risk but use is not recommended during the last trimester because of the risk of premature closure of the ductus arteriosus in the fetal heart. Ibuprofen is not secreted in breast milk and therefore does not seem to pose a risk.
Disclaimer: Cliff Schaffer does not personally endorse or support any of the comments made within the writings of this article.