Ibuprofen is a type of drug called a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works by stopping the production of compounds called prostaglandins in the body, which have a number of effects, including to cause inflammation.
As a result, ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and inflammation by stopping the production of prostaglandins. This is why it is usually used to relieve painful inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
Ibuprofen is also commonly used to relieve pain and reduce fever in children, as an alternative to paracetamol.
Brand Names and Doses
Ibuprofen is the generic name of the drug, which is the name of the active component that has an effect on your body. You may also know it better by a brand name, which is the name given to the medication made by each pharmaceutical company so that they can market it.
Brand names of ibuprofen for oral tablets or capsules include:
Advil tablets (200mg) or Advil Liquid capsules (200mg)
Brufen tablets (400mg)
Bugesic tablets (200mg)
Tri-Profen tablets (200mg)
Nurofen tablets (200mg) or Nurofen Liquid capsules (200mg)
Nurofen Double Strength tablets or capsules (400mg)
Rafen tablets (200mg)
Panafen tablets (200mg)
Ibuprofen is also available as a liquid product, which is useful for people who have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules, such as the elderly or young children. The brand names of liquid ibuprofen include:
Bugesic oral liquid (20mg/mL)
iProfen for Children (20mg/mL)
Nurofen for Children (20mg/mL)
Nurofen for Infants (40mg/mL)
Nurofen Gel is the brand name of ibuprofen in a gel, which can be applied directly to the skin of the affected area. This is helpful because it has a targeted effect where it is needed and is less likely to cause side effects to other areas of the body.
What type of drug is it?
Ibuprofen is a type of drug known as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is a group of drugs that all work in a similar way. Other examples of NSAIDs include:
Ibuprofen is a nonselective NSAID, which means that it blocks both COX-1 and COX-2 to stop the production of more types of prostaglandins than some other NSAIDs. This means that it is more likely to cause side effects due to the action of the other prostaglandins that is reduced.
It also has a relatively short half-life, which means that your body clears it quite quickly after you take a dose. This is a good thing for quick pain relief, but you will need to take regular doses (3-4 per day) to maintain good pain relief.
What is Ibuprofen used for?
Ibuprofen can be used to help relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation caused by a variety of health conditions. Your doctor may recommend it for:
Muscular injury pain
Unlike many other NSAIDs, Ibuprofen has an antipyretic effect, which means it can help to reduce fever. This is also why it is often given to children who are in pain and have fever.
Nurofen Gel is also useful pain and inflammation in soft tissues in your body because the gel can be applied exactly where it is needed. For example, if you have sprained your ankle, you can apply the gel to the inflamed area so that the pain relief and anti-inflammatory effect is targeted towards that area.
How does it work?
Ibuprofen works by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2, which are needed to produce prostaglandins in your body. There many different types of prostaglandins, with some in almost every tissue of your body. They each have different effects, such as to cause:
the tissues in your body to become inflamed
your blood vessels to relax and widen
the platelets in your blood to come together to form a clot
Ibuprofen has a general effect on almost all the prostaglandins because it blocks both COX-1 and COX-2 from producing prostaglandins in your body. This means that it can reduce all of the usual effects prostaglandins. We want it to reduce inflammation because that is why we are using it, but it can also cause hypertension and affect the way the blood forms clots.
There are many different side effects that you may experience if you take ibuprofen. These do not affect everyone, but it’s important to know what they are so that you can recognize them if you do notice them.
The side effects of Ibuprofen may include:
This is not a complete list of side effects, but just some of the most common. Please see the ibuprofen information leaflet for more detailed information.
For localized muscular pain, many of these side effects can be reduced if you use the gel instead of the oral tablet. This is because the effect occurs mainly in the affected area, instead of the rest of the body.
Ibuprofen can interact with many other medications when they are used in together, including:
These medications can often be used together, but your doctor should be aware that you are taking both medications so that they can adjust the dose as needed to ensure they are safe and effective.
There are some people who may need to avoid using Ibuprofen, or use it with caution, because they may be at risk of side effects due to the medication.
Peptic ulcers or GI bleeding:
Ibuprofen is not usually used for people who have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or peptic ulcers. This is because it can increase the risk of peptic ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding. If it is required, a medication to help prevent gastrointestinal problems, such as esomeprazole or pantoprazole, is usually recommended as well.
Ibuprofen may increase the risk of bleeding or thrombosis because the antiplatelet effect of the prostaglandins may be reduced.
Ibuprofen may cause retention of sodium and fluid in the body, which can make hypertension and heart failure worse. It should not be used if you have heart failure, angina, peripheral artery disease or cerebrovascular disease.
Ibuprofen may increase the risk of bronchospasm and cause symptoms of asthma to worsen. Some people with asthma can use them without any problems, but it is best to use a low dose and watch for signs of worsening asthma if you are using it for the first time.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
Ibuprofen may cause symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease to get worse.
Ibuprofen can cause renal impairment is some people, particularly when used in combination with some other medications. If you already have some renal impairment, an NSAID may not be the best choice for you.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Ibuprofen is not usually recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. This is because it can interfere with fertility and the development of the fetus.
For women planning to become pregnant, it can prevent or delay ovulation, so that the woman is less likely to conceive. Additionally, using ibuprofen during pregnancy, particularly at the time of conception, is linked to a higher risk of miscarriage. It may also cause other problems later on in the pregnancy and should be avoided.
For women who are breastfeeding, ibuprofen is considered safe to use.