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Side effects of ibuprofen

Common side effects of tablets, capsules, granules and liquid

These common side effects of ibuprofen taken by mouth happen in more than 1 in 100 people. There are things you can do to help cope with them:


Make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try not to drink too much alcohol. It's important not to take any other medicines for pain to help with headaches. Talk to your doctor if the headaches last longer than a week or are severe.

Feeling dizzy

If ibuprofen makes you feel dizzy, stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better. Avoid coffee, cigarettes and alcohol. If the dizziness does not get better within a couple of days, speak to your pharmacist or doctor. Do not drive or ride a bike while you're feeling dizzy.

Feeling sick (nausea)

Stick to simple meals. Do not eat rich or spicy food. Always take ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules or liquid with a meal or snack or with a drink of milk.

Being sick (vomiting)

Have small, frequent sips of water to avoid dehydration. Speak to a pharmacist if you have signs of dehydration, such as peeing less than usual or having dark, strong-smelling pee. Do not take any other medicines to treat vomiting without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.

If you take the combined contraceptive pill or the progestogen-only pill and you're being sick, your contraception may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet for advice.


Try not to eat foods that cause wind (like lentils, beans and onions). Eat smaller meals, eat and drink slowly, and exercise regularly. There are pharmacy medicines that can also help, such as charcoal tablets or simeticone.


If you get repeated indigestion stop taking ibuprofen and see your doctor as soon as possible. If you need something to ease the discomfort, try taking an antacid, but do not put off going to the doctor.

Speak to a doctor or pharmacist if the advice on how to cope does not help and a side effect is still bothering you or does not go away.

Common side effects of gel, mousse and spray

You're less likely to have side effects when you apply ibuprofen to your skin than with tablets, capsules, granules or liquid because less gets into your body. But you may still get the same side effects, especially if you use a lot on a large area of skin.

Applying ibuprofen to your skin can sometimes cause your skin to become more sensitive than normal to sunlight. Speak to your doctor if this is a problem.

Serious side effects

Call a doctor or call 111 straight away and stop taking ibuprofen if you have:

  • black poo or blood in your vomit – these can be signs of bleeding in your stomach
  • swollen ankles, blood in your pee or not peeing at all – these can be signs of a kidney problem

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you have severe chest or stomach pain – these can be signs of a hole in your stomach or gut
  • you have difficulty breathing, or asthma symptoms that become worse
  • you get a severe headache, a high temperature or stiff neck, and a dislike of bright lights – these can be signs or inflammation of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges)
  • you have blurred vision or you see or hear things that are not real (hallucinations)

Find your nearest A&E

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to ibuprofen.

Immediate action required: Call 999 now if:

  • your lips, mouth, throat or tongue suddenly become swollen
  • you're breathing very fast or struggling to breathe (you may become very wheezy or feel like you're choking or gasping for air)
  • your throat feels tight or you're struggling to swallow
  • your skin, tongue or lips turn blue, grey or pale (if you have black or brown skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet)
  • you suddenly become very confused, drowsy or dizzy
  • someone faints and cannot be woken up
  • a child is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)

You or the person who's unwell may also have a rash that's swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling.

These can be signs of a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Long term side effects

Ibuprofen can cause ulcers in your stomach or gut, especially if you take it by mouth for a long time or in big doses. If you need to take it for a long time your doctor may also prescribe a medicine to help protect your stomach.

Other side effects

These are not all the side effects of ibuprofen tablets, capsules and syrup. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.


You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.

Visit Yellow Card for further information.

Page last reviewed: 18 November 2021
Next review due: 18 November 2024