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Ibuprofen is an NSAID, which is a type of medication with analgesic, fever-reducing, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory properties.

The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source includes ibuprofen on its list of essential medicines. The list states the minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system.

Other types of pain relief medication are steroids and narcotics, or opioids. NSAIDs are safer than both of these, as long-term steroid use can have severe adverse effects, and taking opioids can result in improper use.

Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are well-known NSAIDs, partly because they are available over the counter at pharmacies.

Ibuprofen reduces pain, fever, swelling, and inflammation by blockingTrusted Source the production of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. The body releases these substances in response to illness and injury.

If a person takes ibuprofen by mouth, they should notice the effects after 20–30 minutes.


People can take ibuprofen by mouth as a syrup or tablet. They can also apply it directly to the skin as a mousse, gel, or spray.

Uses includeTrusted Source:

  • fever
  • inflammation
  • headache
  • menstrual pain
  • the common cold
  • toothache
  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • sprains

Some medications, such as decongestants, have ibuprofen added to create, for example, a combined cold or flu remedy.

Other products combine ibuprofen with opioids, such as oxycodone. These are for short-term use only, as they can result in misuse.

Side effects

The most common adverse effects of ibuprofen are gastrointestinal. They include:

  • pain
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dyspepsia
  • bloating

Among other likely side effects are:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • skin rash
  • tinnitus
  • edema, or fluid retention

If a person feels dizzy after taking ibuprofen, they should not drive or operate machinery.


Ibuprofen is widely available in tablet and syrup forms. Doctors may also giveTrusted Source it intravenously to manage pain after surgery.

The dosage will depend on the reason for taking ibuprofen and a person’s age. It is essential to take the correct dosage to minimize the risk of side effects.

It is best to take it with food or a drink of milk to reduce the risk of an upset stomach.

For mild to moderate pain, a person can take 400 milligrams (mg) every 4–6 hours. The maximum dose in 1 day is 3,200 mg.

For other purposes, a doctor will recommend the dosage. They will also monitor the person for adverse effects and adjust the dose as necessary.

Ibuprofen and children

Children can take pediatric ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever.

Doses for children are lower than those for adults. Research suggests that dose levels be based on a child’s weight and age.

People should contact a doctor before giving a child ibuprofen if the child is:

  • under 2 years of age or weighs less than 24 pounds
  • taking any other medication
  • receiving treatment for a serious health condition

People should consult the instructions on the packaging or check with a pharmacist or healthcare professional before giving ibuprofen or other medication to children.

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