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Back to Medicines A to Z. Ibuprofen is an everyday painkiller for a range of aches and pains, including back pain, period paintoothache. It also treats inflammation such as strains and sprainsand pain from arthritis. It's available as tablets and capsules, and as a syrup that you swallow. It also comes as a gel, mousse and spray that you rub into your skin.
Ibuprofen is combined with other painkillers in some products. It's an ingredient in some cold and flu remedies, such as Nurofen Cold and Flu. You can buy most types of ibuprofen from pharmacies and supermarkets. Some types are only available on prescription. For unders, read our information on ibuprofen for children. The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed that there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature can make coronavirus COVID worse.
You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat the symptoms of coronavirus. We recommend that you try paracetamol first, it has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people. Some brands of ibuprofen tablets, capsules and syrup contain aspartame, colourings E sgelatin, glucose, lactose, sodium, sorbitol, soya or sucrose, so they may be unsuitable for some people. To make sure ibuprofen by mouth or on your skin is safe for you, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have :.
If you're over 65 ibuprofen can make you more likely to get stomach ulcers. Your doctor will prescribe you a medicine to protect your stomach if you're taking ibuprofen for a long term condition. The usual dose for adults is one or two mg tablets 3 times a day.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose of up to mg to take 4 times a day if needed. This should only happen under supervision of a doctor. If you take ibuprofen 3 times a day, leave at least 6 hours between doses. If you take it 4 times a day, leave at least 4 hours between doses.
If you have pain all the time, your doctor may recommend slow-release ibuprofen tablets or capsules. It's usual to take these once a day in the evening or twice a day. Leave a gap of 10 to 12 hours between doses if you're taking ibuprofen twice a day. For people who find it difficult to swallow tablets or capsules, ibuprofen is available as a tablet that melts in your mouth, granules that you mix with a glass of water to make a drink, and as a syrup. Swallow ibuprofen tablets or capsules whole with a glass of water or juice.
You should take ibuprofen tablets and capsules after a meal or snack or with a drink of milk. It will be less likely to upset your stomach. If you are prescribed ibuprofen as a regular medicine and forget to take a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it's almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as normal. If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
The amount of ibuprofen you put on your skin depends on the product you're using — check the package leaflet carefully for how much to use. Gently massage the ibuprofen into the painful area 3 or 4 times a day. Leave at least 4 hours between applications, and do not put it on more than 4 times in 24 hours.
Never use ibuprofen gel, mousse or spray on your eyes, mouth, lips, nose or genital area. Do not put it on sore or broken skin. Do not put plasters or dressings over skin you've applied ibuprofen to. If you get a headache, vomit or feel sleepy after accidentally swallowing ibuprofen gel, contact a doctor or straight away.
It's safe to take ibuprofen with paracetamol or codeine. But do not take ibuprofen with similar painkillers like aspirin or naproxen without talking to a pharmacist or doctor. Ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen belong to the same group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs. If you take them together, ibuprofen plus aspirin or naproxen may increase the chance of you getting side effects like stomach ache.
NSAIDs are also used in medicines you can buy from pharmacies — for example, cough and cold remedies. Before taking any other medicines, check the label to see if they contain aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. The common side effects of ibuprofen taken by mouth happen in more than 1 in people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don't go away:. These are not all the side effects of ibuprofen tablets, capsules and syrup. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet. You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme. You're less likely to have side effects when you apply ibuprofen to your skin than with tablets, capsules and syrup because less gets into your body. However, you may still get the same side effects, especially if you use a lot on a large area of skin.
Applying ibuprofen to your skin can also cause your skin to become more sensitive than normal to sunlight. These are not all the side effects of ibuprofen gel, mousse and spray. Ibuprofen isn't normally recommended in pregnancy — especially if you're 30 or more weeks — unless it's prescribed by a doctor. This is because there might be a link between taking ibuprofen in pregnancy and some birth defects, in particular damage to the baby's heart and blood vessels. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking ibuprofen.
It will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and the reason you need to take the medicine. There may be other treatments that are safer for you. Tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or if you're breastfeeding. Ibuprofen applied to the skin is less likely to interfere with other medicines than if it's taken by mouth. For safety, tell your doctor if you're taking these medicines before you start taking ibuprofen by mouth or using it on your skin:. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
It works by reducing hormones that cause pain and swelling in the body. When you apply ibuprofen to your skin, it works in the same way as when you take it by mouth, but it only works in the area you've applied it to. For some types of long-term pain, you'll need to take ibuprofen regularly for up to 3 weeks Can you crush up ibuprofen it to work properly. Ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin are all effective painkillers. Ibuprofen is good for period pain and migraines. It can also be used for back painstrains and sprains, as well as pain from arthritis.
Paracetamol is typically used for mild or Can you crush up ibuprofen pain. It may be better than ibuprofen for headachestoothachesprainsstomach acheand nerve pain like sciatica. Aspirin works in a similar way to ibuprofen. Like ibuprofen, it's good for period pain and migraines.
If you Can you crush up ibuprofen heavy periods, it can make them heavier. But if you're already taking ibuprofen tablets regularly, you won't get any extra benefit from also using the gel. The gel tends to be best for when you have a pain under the skin and in a very small area of your body. If you're taking ibuprofen for a short-lived pain like toothache or period painyou may only need to take it for a day or two. You may need to take ibuprofen for longer if you have a long-term health problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
If you need to take ibuprofen for more than 6 months, your doctor may prescribe a medicine to protect your stomach from any side effects. Taking ibuprofen occasionally for pain relief — for example when you have a headache — is unlikely to affect your fertility. However, it's best not to take ibuprofen tablets, capsules or syrup if you're trying for a baby. In this case paracetamol is a better option.
This is because taking ibuprofen tablets, capsules or syrup in large doses, or for a long time, can affect ovulation. This can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant — but is usually reversible when you stop taking ibuprofen. Ibuprofen — by mouth or on your skin — doesn't affect any contraceptives, including the contraceptive pill and emergency contraception. If you still need ibuprofen after taking it for 10 days check with your doctor before continuing. It's safe to take ibuprofen regularly for many years if your doctor prescribes it, and as long as you do not take more than the recommended dosage.
If you need to take ibuprofen by mouth for a long time and you're at risk of getting a stomach ulceryour doctor may prescribe a medicine to help protect your stomach. Ibuprofen can cause ulcers in your stomach or gut, especially if you take it by mouth for a long time or in big doses. If you need to take ibuprofen and Can you crush up ibuprofen at risk of getting a stomach ulceryour doctor may prescribe a medicine to help protect your stomach.
If pharmacy painkillers don't work, your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger painkiller or recommend another treatment, such as exercise or physiotherapy. Ibuprofen doesn't work for certain types of pain — for example, nerve pain like sciatica. Your doctor will have to prescribe a different medicine if your pain is related to your nerves.
It's usually safe to drink alcohol while taking ibuprofen. But if you're taking ibuprofen by mouth, drinking too much alcohol may irritate your stomach. Try to keep to the recommended guidelines of no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. A standard glass of wine ml is 2 units. A pint of lager or beer is usually 2 to 3 units of alcohol.
It's best to take ibuprofen tablets, capsules or syrup with, or just after, a meal so it doesn't upset your stomach. Do not take it on an empty stomach. last reviewed: 7 December Next review due: 7 December Ibuprofen for adults including Nurofen On this About ibuprofen for adults Key facts Who can and cannot take ibuprofen How to take tablets, capsules and syrup How to use ibuprofen gel, mousse or spray Taking ibuprofen with other painkillers Side effects of tablets, capsules and syrup Side effects of gel, mousse and spray How to cope with side effects Pregnancy and breastfeeding Cautions with other medicines Common questions.
About ibuprofen for adults Ibuprofen is an everyday painkiller for a range of aches and pains, including back pain, period paintoothache. NHS coronavirus advice The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed that there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature can make coronavirus COVID worse.
Always follow the instructions that come with your medicine. Updated: 16 April Ibuprofen takes 20 to 30 minutes to work if you take it by mouth. It takes 1 to 2 days to work if you put it on your skin. Ibuprofen works by reducing hormones that cause pain and swelling in the body. For strains and sprains, some doctors and pharmacists recommend waiting 48 hours before taking ibuprofen as it may slow down healing.
If you're unsure speak to a pharmacist. Ibuprofen is typically used for period pain or toothache. Some people find ibuprofen better than paracetamol for back pain.Can you crush up ibuprofen
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