Ibuprofen is a drug which is recommended for mild to moderate pain, soreness, swelling, and fever. It is generally available as an Over the Counter (OTC) drug, meaning that anyone can walk into a drugstore and purchase it. This can be risky, as there are dangers to excessive use of this medication, and it is possible to overdose on the drug, potentially causing severe health problems. However, when used safely, the drug can be a very effective and useful pain management tool.
The drug was developed in the 1960s by the Boots Chemical Company, and it is marketed under a number of names. Motrin®, Nurofen®, and Advil® are all forms of ibuprofen. Commonly, the drug is found on the shelf near aspirin, since the two products are used for similar conditions. The drug tends to be easier on the digestive system than aspirin, so people with ulcers and other stomach conditions may prefer ibuprofen for relief of minor aches and pains.
The generic name of the drug is a shortening of its chemical name, iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid. The drug is considered a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication. Unlike a steroidal drug, ibuprofen can be safely used in the long term, as it does not carry as many harmful side effects as steroidal drugs do. When pain and inflammation are not severe, the drug can also be perfectly effective.
Extended or excessive use can carry risks to the heart. It should not be used by people with serious heart conditions before being discussed with a doctor, and most surgeons recommend that it not be used when a patient is about to have heart surgery. Combining aspirin with ibuprofen may also be dangerous; the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highly recommends discussing its use with a doctor for this reason.
An overdose of ibuprofen can result in severe gastrointestinal distress, characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The drug may also cause fluid retention, dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds, and rashes. By taking low doses of the drug which conform with the recommended doses on the label, these symptoms can generally be avoided. If you find yourself taking the medication for an extended period of time, you should consult a doctor, as you may have a serious condition which requires professional medical attention. Always disclose ibuprofen use when you are asked about recent medications, since it can interact with drugs prescribed by a doctor or used in a hospital.