What Is the Active Ingredient in Advil®?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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The active ingredient in Advil® is ibuprofen, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that helps reduce fever, pain, and inflammation. Low-dose Advil® is generally available over-the-counter for the relief of pain due to headache, joint inflammation, muscle cramps, menstrual cramps, minor sprains, and mild arthritis. Prescription-grade Advil® generally contains much higher dosages of ibuprofen and is used for very serious fevers and pain due to serious injuries, severe arthritis, and serious infections. These higher doses of Advil® should only be taken under the direction of a doctor, and the dosage instructions and schedule should be followed very carefully.

The word ibuprofen is a combination of the words iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid. The first few letters in the hyphenated words were isolated and combined to create a word that was easier to pronounce and spell. This active ingredient in Advil® works by reducing or stopping the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are materials in the body that trigger an inflammatory response when the body is injured or infected. When these materials are blocked, the patient usually experiences temporary pain relief, reduced swelling, and even cooler skin temperatures in the affected area.


The active ingredient in Advil® may also be used to prevent blood clots from forming because it has an anti-platelet effect on the blood. Platelets are clotting agents in the bloodstream that rush to the scene when someone experiences cuts or breaks in the skin. The platelets fuse together to stop the flow of blood out of the body and help form scabs. These cells can also cause blood clots that may lead to blocked arteries, which could cause serious medical conditions, like strokes. Patients prone to blood clots may be given the active ingredient in Advil® to prevent these conditions.

Those who are allergic to aspirin are often given the active ingredient in Advil® instead. Though ibuprofen is often not as strong as aspirin, it does not usually cause an allergic reaction. For most people, ibuprofen is also fairly gentle on the system, though some patients with sensitive digestion may want to take the active ingredient in Advil® with a glass of milk or a small meal to prevent stomach upset. Patients taking Advil® on a regular basis, especially in large doses, should speak to a doctor before taking herbal treatments because those natural remedies may react poorly with the ibuprofen.

People worried about drug dependency may be able to take Advil® for extended periods of time without issues. This drug is usually quite mild and does not usually foster addiction. Despite this, patients should not typically take Advil® for extended periods of time, except under the direction of a doctor.



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