Ibuprofen is a common NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). It was discovered in the 1960’s by the Boots Group. The Boots Group applied for its patent in 1961. This is now a very common over-the-counter and prescription medication.  It has all the common effects of NSAIDs: pain relief, fever relief, and swelling reduction. It’s also been shown to have a much lower rate of negative side effects on the stomach and intestines. The relative safety combined with the variety of uses have put ibuprofen on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines.

Want to know more about NSAIDs? Click here for more information: What are NSAIDs?


Ibuprofen is available worldwide in both over-the-counter medications and as a prescription drug.

Method Of Use

Ibuprofen is most often taken orally, though it can also be taken as a suppository. Infants may be given ibuprofen via an IV to close the ductus arteriosus when the blood vessel doesn’t close on its own.

Ibuprofen can also be used as a topical cream. The cream can be applied directly to an injury, but experts don’t believe this is more effective or reduces side effects.

Ibuprofen Dosage

Ibuprofen is generally safer to give to children, though all NSAIDs can be dangerous to infants and very young children, and the safety of ibuprofen for people under 18 hasn’t been fully confirmed. To be on the safe side, make sure to consult a doctor before giving your child ibuprofen.

When the medication is given, the dose is usually 5 mg to 10 mg for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of the child’s body weight. The maximum daily dose is 40 mg per kilogram.  In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the dosage is significantly increased to up to 2.4 g (2400 mg) per day.

As adults, the typical doses for pain or fever is 200 mg to 400 mg every 6 hours as necessary. Again, the dosage for rheumatoid arthritis is increased significantly, 400 mg to 800 mg every 6 to 8 hours.

It’s available worldwide in a variety of doses, but 200 mg ibuprofen is the most common.

Common Uses of Ibuprofen


Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter painkiller. This is the most commonly marketed use of the drug, especially the over-the-counter and brand-name medicines. As ibuprofen has a fairly mild effect on the stomach and digestive system, it’s often used for relief from migraines.


Ibuprofen has a strong anti-fever effect, so it is often used to reduce fevers. It’s sometimes given to children suffering from very high fevers as well, but it’s important to only do so under direct supervision of a doctor.

Menstrual Pain

Ibuprofen is also highly recommended for menstrual pain. Some manufacturers produce a specialized medicine just for the relief from menstrual pain (medical jargon = dysmenorrhea).

Minor Injuries

Injuries such as sprains, strains, and bruises can be treated with over-the-counter doses of ibuprofen. It’s helpful in both managing the pain and reducing swelling, which allows the injury to heal faster and more completely. In more severe injuries, higher-dose ibuprofen may be prescribed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

As this chronic condition causes both swelling and pain, NSAIDs are often prescribed for its treatment. Ibuprofen is quite effective at managing both the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, though it’s typically prescribed in higher doses than for other everyday uses.

Patent Ductus Arteriosu

This is a condition affecting newborn babies, especially those born prematurely. The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that prevents a baby’s blood from circulating over the lungs while in the womb. If it doesn’t close naturally, it can cause a series of complications. Ibuprofen is effective in stimulating the ductus arteriosus to close.


This is a condition where the lining around the heart (pericardium) swells, causing pain and potentially disrupting the heart’s normal functions. It can be caused by a number of things including chronic heart disease and infection. Ibuprofen is often used (so is aspirin) to treat the condition.

Click here for a general list of the Common Uses of NSAIDs.

Side Effects of Ibuprofen

One of the things that has made ibuprofen a popular medication is its relatively mild side effects. Many people have no side effects at all when using this drug.  Of those who do experience side effects, the following are the most common:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • stomach discomfort (pain, nausea, or an upset stomach)
  • headache
  • dizziness

The minor side effects aren’t something to worry about.  If they become unbearably uncomfortable or continue even if you’re no longer taking the medication, talk to a doctor about it.  The following are some more serious side effects.  If any of these occur, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. These side effects are uncommon, but can indicate a serious problem when present.

  • any kind of allergic reaction (hives, rash, shortness of breath, swelling anywhere in the mouth or face)
  • vomiting (especially discolored vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds)
  • discolored stool (black, bloody, or with a tar-like consistency)
  • mood changes (mood swings, depression, confusion)
  • hearing loss or ringing in the ears
  • unusual weakness or tiredness (either in general or in specific parts of the body)
  • numbness or swelling in the limbs or extremities
  • seizures
  • photosensitivity (exposure to sunlight causing redness, swelling, blistering or peeling of the skin)

Continuous use of ibuprofen, especially at high doses, has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. A recent study has shown that among NSAIDs, ibuprofen has the highest increased risk of stroke. Occasional use isn’t likely to have a significant effect on heart health, but over-use can be dangerous long-term.

Click here for more information about NSAIDs side effects.