Ibuprofen Side Effects and Health Risks

Ibuprofen is often recommended for relief of pain, fever and inflammation. Here is a comprehensive list of Ibuprofen side effects, allergy symptoms, medication incompatible with Ibuprofen, risk factors such as medical conditions, and Ibuprofen overdose symptoms.

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), available over-the-counter or in prescription form. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs help relieve pain, inflammation and fever due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid disorders, pinched nerves, cold and flu, menstrual cramps and a wide range of other health conditions. Ibuprofen was FDA-approved in 1984.

In some people, Ibuprofen can cause side effects or allergic reaction. Long-term or excess use of Ibuprofen can also have damaging health complications. Ibuprofen isn’t recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or stomach problems, or people who are taking certain types of medication, such as warfarin.

Ongoing use of Ibuprofen can cause stomach disorders. Pregnant women should not take Ibuprofen due to risk of fetal injury or death.

Ibuprofen Allergy Symptoms

Anyone can develop an allergy to Ibuprofen. People allergic to aspirin or salicylic acid are more likely to experience an allergy to Ibuprofen as well.

The most common allergic reactions to Ibuprofen include:

  • skin rash or hives
  • blisters, often filled with fluid
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness

Ibuprofen Side Effects

Short-Term or Temporary Ibuprofen Side Effects

Ibuprofen may manifest some side effects, which usually diminish during treatment. These include:

  • indigestion
  • gas
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • light-headedness

If the above symptoms persist or worsen during the course of treatment, talk to your doctor.

Reported Ibuprofen Side Effects (Long List)

People using Ibuprofen have reported the following side effects:

  • black tarry stools
  • changes in amount of urine
  • dark urine
  • changes in vision
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • slurred speech
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • chills
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fever
  • hoarseness or sore throat
  • severe headache
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • chest pain (sharp or crushing)
  • pounding heartbeat
  • sudden leg pain
  • arm or leg numbness
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • stiff neck
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • skin itch
  • skin rash including blisters and/or peeling skin
  • swelling in the face or extremities
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • mental changes
  • mood disorders
  • sudden weight gain

If any of these symptoms appear or worsen during treatment with Ibuprofen, speak to your doctor.

Ibuprofen and Medical Conditions

Long-term use of Ibuprofen may cause stomach damage. The risk of stomach problems is greater in people who:

  • are elderly
  • are in generally poor health
  • have gastritis or chronic stomach or digestive disorders
  • drink alcohol
  • take corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • take blood thinners, such as warfarin

People who have ulcers or pre-existing stomach or digestive conditions should not take Ibuprofen.

The risk of complications when taking Ibuprofen is higher if the patient suffers from any of the following conditions:

  • dehydration
  • history of heart attack
  • coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • history of stroke
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • blood clotting problems
  • edema (swelling of the hands, feet or ankles)
  • stomach or bowel problems
  • bleeding ulcers
  • excess alcohol use or alcoholism
  • poorly controlled diabetes
  • kidney disorder
  • liver disorder
  • anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • other blood or bleeding problems
  • asthma
  • nasal polyps
  • any allergies (especially with symptoms of throat, lip or tongue swelling)
  • history of allergy to aspirin or to other NSAIDs (such as naproxen or celecoxib)

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid taking Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen taken by the mother can impair fetal development or cause long-term damage to the fetus or breast-feeding infants.

The risk of heart attack while taking Ibuprofen is greater in people who have had one or more previous heart attacks. People who have heart disease, hardening of the arteries, chest pain, or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol should not take Ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen and Medication

Ibuprofen can interfere with or react with certain medication. Drugs or medication commonly affected by use of Ibuprofen include:

  • serotonin reuptake inhibitors (such as fluoxetine or citalopram)
  • blood thinners (such as warfarin)
  • bisphosphonates (such as alendronate)
  • blood pressure medicines (especially ACE inhibitors; beta-blockers such as metoprolol)
  • some diuretics (such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide or triamterene)
  • lithium
  • methotrexate
  • aspirin

While most people can take Ibuprofen without complications, some side effects can be serious. If you experience symptoms of allergy, are in a high-risk group or have any adverse reaction to Ibuprofen, stop taking Ibuprofen and notify your doctor immediately.

Go to the hospital if you experience sudden swelling, difficulty breathing, fainting, or symptoms of stroke or heart attack. Loss of consciousness is a symptom of shock, and the patient should have immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Ibuprofen Overdose

The recommended dosage of Ibuprofen varies by body weight, age and condition of health. Doses of Ibuprofen should be taken at least six to eight hours apart. An overdose of Ibuprofen can cause symptoms such as:

  • severe stomach pain or cramps
  • vomit, resembling coffee grounds
  • difficulty breathing
  • abnormal (fast or slow) heartbeat
  • extreme drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures

If you suspect Ibuprofen overdose, call a poison control center or go to the hospital immediately.

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