Ibuprofen first became available over the counter in 1984, and it has developed a reputation as aspirin’s gentler, safer younger siblings. That said, like most medications, ibuprofen can have side effects. “Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for both pain control and fever control,” says Kenneth Perry, MD, an emergency physician in Charleston, South Carolina. “Although ibuprofen is taken safely if taken correctly, chronic use can cause some long-term health problems.” Read on to see what it takes to take ibuprofen every day on your body. (And remember, it̵
Ibuprofen works by inhibiting prostaglandins, natural chemicals that “turn on” pain and inflammation in the body. Ibuprofen has been rated safest NSAID with regard to spontaneous drug reactions, and it may be easier for some people to take than aspirin, as it requires a lower dose to work and is less likely to cause side effects such as stomach irritation.
“NSAIDs such as ibuprofen have a black box that warns that use may increase the risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events such as heart attack and stroke,” he said. Leann Poston, MD. “Users should use the lowest dose needed to relieve their pain, stop taking NSAIDs as soon as possible, and consult your healthcare provider if you need them for more than a week.”
Ironically, the first medication that many of us turn to for headaches can cause headaches if used too often. “Using painkillers like ibuprofen routinely to treat headaches can cause rebound headaches when the medication is discontinued,” Poston says.
“Taking ibuprofen routinely can increase blood pressure a bit,” Poston says. According to Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure often has no symptoms; over time, if left untreated, it can cause health conditions, such as heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about other medicines or supplements you are taking with ibuprofen. “Ibuprofen interacts with many OTC herbs and supplements,” he says Dr. Danielle Plummer, PharmD. “When taken with other specific drugs, the active ingredient in both drugs may increase, resulting in either too much of it, leading to increased side effects or diminution and therefore not getting the desired effect of the drug.”
“A notable side effect of taking this NSAID daily is swelling in the legs or body.” say Magdalena Cadet, MD. This swelling is caused by excess fluid trapped in the tissues of the body. It is a common side effect of NSAIDs and usually resolves when the medication is discontinued.
“If you take ibuprofen regularly, your stomach loses its protective barrier and is more susceptible to injury,” says Barry Gorlitsky, MD. “Over time, this can lead to gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) or something more sinister such as stomach ulcers or perforation, which can be extremely painful, lead to bleeding and can be life threatening.”
Never take more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen; It can be dangerous. “Ibuprofen, if taken incorrectly, can also cause damage to kidney cells,” he says Dr. Perry. “This injury may be irreversible for some patients and requires prolonged dialysis.”
“Your liver metabolizes everything you eat. Chronic ibuprofen can damage liver cells,” he says Siddharth Tambar, MD. “Fortunately, the liver can regenerate and recover, but if the damage is recurrent, it can eventually lead to cirrhosis.”
“Ibuprofen works by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme involved in the platelet aggregation pathway, which is important in controlling bleeding and hemostasis,” says Monisha Bhanote, MD. “Daily prolonged use of ibuprofen may increase the risk of uncontrolled bleeding.”