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What Are the Pros and Cons of Ibuprofen for Inflammation?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Using ibuprofen for inflammation may relieve pain and swelling, but it can also cause upset stomach and gastrointestinal bleeding. Many patients suffering from inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are frequently prescribed ibuprofen for inflammation because of its rapid onset of relief. In addition to relieving pain, inflammation, and stiffness from joint conditions, ibuprofen is also effective in relieving menstrual cramps, sore throat, and fever.

Many health care providers recommend ibuprofen for inflammation as opposed to other pain medications, such as acetaminophen. Though these types of medications help relieve pain, they do nothing to reduce inflammation. Although the administration of ibuprofen for inflammation is considered safe for people of all ages, it may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications.

People who are taking prescription medications to thin the blood, or those who take cardio-protective aspirin on a regular basis should talk to their health care providers before taking ibuprofen for inflammation or pain. Taking ibuprofen with these medications can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding and may put a strain on the kidneys. The health care provider should be alerted to existing medical conditions such as liver or kidney problems, cardiovascular conditions, and bleeding disorders.

Taking ibuprofen for inflammation or pain may also not be appropriate for those who have asthma, nasal polyps, lupus, or gastrointestinal conditions. Although ibuprofen is generally well tolerated, it can cause side effects. These side effects include diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, and anxiety. Ringing in the ears and bloating may also occur as a result of taking ibuprofen.

Though most ibuprofen side effects are mild, serious side can occur and include unexplained weight gain, wheezing, chest pain and jaundice. Patients may also develop swelling of the throat, extremities, eyes, and mouth. Other serious side effects include difficulty swallowing, hives, palpitations, and confusion. If these side effects occur, emergency medical evaluation and treatment should be sought.

Ibuprofen is also commonly combined with other medications, such as those used to treat cold and cough symptoms. It is important to read the labels on these preparations because taking them in conjunction with plain ibuprofen could result in an an overdose. When purchasing these medications over the counter, it is important to get advice from the pharmacist on which medication is best. It is also recommended to talk to a health care provider before giving these medications to young children and those who are elderly.

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