Advil (ibuprofen) can help to alleviate numerous kinds of pain, such as muscle and joint, migraines, headaches, and arthritis, just to name a few! As a short-term pain reliever, Advil is very effective. However, if used long-term, it can be a dangerous medication, leading to complications such as medication overuse headaches, and upper gastrointestinal bleeds.
What is Advil, and how does it work?
Advil (ibuprofen) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs block your body’s production of natural substances, such as prostaglandins, which cause inflammation. This helps to reduce swelling, pain and fever. Typically, this medication can be used as 200-400mg every 4-6 hours, as needed for pain or fever.
Other medications similar to Advil include:
Caution:Aleve (naproxen), Voltaren (diclofenac), Toradol (ketorolac), aspirin, and Celebrex (celecoxib) are all NSAIDs. It is important to not combine these products when taken orally. some cold and flu combination products may contain ibuprofen. Please consult your pharmacist before choosing products so that you are not taking more than the recommended dose!
What are some dangers of Advil?
Side effects of NSAIDs include having an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. These can be mitigated by taking the medication with food, and ensuring you do not lie down for 10 minutes afterwards!
Stomach ulcers and internal bleeding:
Prostaglandins also help maintain the constant repair of your stomach lining, which protects you from damage from stomach acid. As mentioned before, NSAIDs decrease how much prostaglandin you make, therefore reducing stomach protection. This increases your risk of stomach damage, such as bleeding and ulcers in the stomach and intestines. Other factors that increase your risk of stomach bleeds include:
  • A history of ulcers or bleeding in your stomach or intestines
  • Older age
  • Using oral steroids or other blood thinners (anticoagulants)
Red Flags: If you have severe stomach pain, or you notice bloody or tarry stools, or throw up “coffee grounds,” this may be a medical emergency. Stop taking ibuprofen, and contact your health care provider right away.
Decreased kidney function and increased blood pressure:
Prostaglandins help keep the pressure in your kidneys at the right level to filter the fluids in your body and maintain your blood pressure. Ibuprofen changes your body’s production of prostaglandins, which can alter your body fluid pressure. This may decrease your kidney function and increase your blood pressure. Other factors which increase your risk of decreased kidney function include:
  • Older age
  • Have kidney disease
  • Taking blood pressure medications
Red flags: if you notice increased blood pressure, fluid buildup, dehydration, urinating less frequently, and/or dizziness, please stop taking ibuprofen and contact your healthcare provider.
What do I need to know before taking Advil?
Consult your pharmacist before self-medicating with ibuprofen, as there may be individual risk factors that need to be assessed. When used as a short-term pain reliever, it is a safe and effective medication. Please do not exceed more than 2.4 grams per day (maximum: 400mg every 4 hours). If you find that you are using the maximum dose for more than 3 days, please follow-up with your pharmacist or physician. This medication may be used long-term in patients with arthritis. In this case, the benefits of taking the medication are outweighing the cons. However, it is still important to look out for the red flags noted above. Always inform your pharmacist about other herbal supplements you are taking. Some herbal supplements, in combination with ibuprofen, may increase your risk of an ulcer or other dangers.
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