Painkillers, ibuprofen - Side effects 

Side effects of ibuprofen 

Reporting side effects

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you are taking.

It is run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

See the Yellow Card Scheme website for more information.

Ibuprofen can cause a number of side effects.

For this reason, take the lowest possible dose of ibuprofen for the shortest possible time needed to control your symptoms.

Common side effects of ibuprofen include:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting (being sick)
  • diarrhoea (passing loose, watery stools)
  • indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • tummy (abdominal) pain

Less common side effects include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fluid retention (bloating)
  • raised blood pressure
  • gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
  • a stomach ulcer
  • allergic reactions – such as a rash
  • worsening of asthma symptoms by causing bronchospasm (narrowing of the airways)
  • kidney failure

Less common side effects can also include black stools and blood in your vomit. These side effects can indicate that there is bleeding in your stomach.

See the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine or the ibuprofen medicines information section for a full list of side effects.

If you feel unwell after taking ibuprofen or have concerns about an ibuprofen side effect, seek advice from your GP or pharmacist, or call NHS 111.

Increased risks

Taking ibuprofen, particularly at high doses over long periods of time, can increase your risk of:

  • stroke  when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed
  • heart attacks  when the blood supply to the heart is blocked

In women, long-term use of ibuprofen might be associated with reduced fertility. This is usually reversible when you stop taking ibuprofen.

Ability to drive

Ibuprofen is unlikely to affect your ability to drive safely, although some people may feel dizzy after taking ibuprofen. If you experience dizziness, do not drive.

Page last reviewed: 08/07/2014

Next review due: 08/07/2016


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

makebelieve79 said on 11 March 2013

I was checking to see if ibuprofen could interfere with fertility, which apparently it can. I also just read about another study that discussed the costs associated with all of these side effects. Apparently, the average cost for one of these side effects is $15,000-$20,000. Yikes! (The name of the study was Analysis of Pain Relief Costs and Outcomes.)

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DENNIS I said on 26 October 2012

I have suffered hair loss which I put down to Ibuprofen and doubt if my hair will return to normal.

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User387558 said on 18 September 2012

I was a regular taker of ibuprofen until my duodenum burst earlier this year (2012) - I have been told this was a direct result of my taking ibuprofen. I have been told to stay away from ibuprofen.
As for Lamulady I would suggest you make enquiries about pregabalin and/or an synchromed II intravenous pump. These really help with the pain, have you been referred to a pain clinic??

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Lamulady said on 31 March 2012

The article on any side effects of using ibuprofen for a long period of time was, to me, completely useless. I have L.S.S.. I have to take pain relievers if I wish to move anywhere, walk etc. I have been prescribed Gabapentin which has limited success but the contra effects are extreme lassitude & I fear, possible weight gain which is dire. At the moment I am 72kg which is about 3kg below my normal weight whilst in G.B. but, having been in India for 4 months I should have dropped to well under 70kg because of excess heat/sweating , reduced appetite & eating less carbohydrates than I do whilst at home.I am taking about 1g of paracetamol some days & alternate with small amount of iboprufen as well as the gabapentin. However, even taking them all in one dose does not always facilitate my walking as my legs, apart from the normal feet/calf pain sometimes burn right up to the backs of the thighs. Sometimes it becomes impossible to walk more than a few feet at a time because the leg muscles seem unable to function correctly & I become like a drunk...legless! I am turning to all kinds of help lines as I have become worse so fast. The problem began about 2 years ago & after a final MRI scan last October was diagnosed with Stenosis of the lower vertebrae (2 of which are fused anyway from birth.)
I am not sure if this letter will provide any more results than my Doctor is already trying for.

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Which painkiller?

The drugs you should take to treat pain depend on what type of pain you have