Special considerations 

Some people should avoid using ibuprofen. Others, including older people, should use it with caution.

If you have any queries about using ibuprofen, or any other medicines, speak to your GP or pharmacist, or call NHS 111.

Do not use

Do not take ibuprofen if you:

  • have a history of hypersensitivity (a strong, unpleasant reaction) to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • have a current or recent stomach ulcer (an open sore that develops on the inside lining of the stomach or small intestine) or you have had one in the past
  • have severe heart failure (when your heart is not pumping blood around your body very efficiently)
  • have severe liver disease
  • are taking low-dose aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease

Use with caution

Use ibuprofen with caution if you are aged 65 or over, or if you're breastfeeding (see below).

You should also use ibuprofen with caution if you have:

  • asthma
  • kidney problems
  • liver problems
  • a connective tissue disorder such as lupus
  • Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive system)
  • ulcerative colitis (a long-term condition that affects the large intestine)
  • previously had any bleeding in your stomach
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • peripheral arterial disease (narrowing of the arteries)
  • any problems with your heart, such as angina (symptoms caused by a restricted blood supply to the heart), heart attacks (when the blood supply to your heart is blocked), or mild or moderate heart failure
  • cerebrovascular disease (problems with the blood supply in the brain) such as a stroke (when the blood supply to the brain is restricted or interrupted)

Ibuprofen and older people

Ibuprofen should also be used with caution in people who are aged 65 or over, because they have a higher risk of developing more serious side effects.

For example, bleeding is more common among older people and is more likely to have a serious outcome. People receiving long-term treatment with ibuprofen are also prescribed a medicine to reduce stomach acid and prevent stomach bleeding, such as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or an H-2 antagonist. Read more about the side effects of ibuprofen.

Older people are also more likely to have a heart or kidney problem, which ibuprofen can make worse.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist for further guidance on whether ibuprofen is safe for you.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Ideally, pregnant women should not take ibuprofen unless recommended by a doctor. But ibuprofen appears in breast milk in small amounts, so it’s unlikely to cause any harm to your baby while you’re breastfeeding. It’s best to tell your GP, pharmacist or health visitor about any medicines you’re taking.

Paracetamol is the preferred medication to help ease short-term pain or reduce a high temperature (fever) during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Page last reviewed: 08/07/2014

Next review due: 08/07/2016