Side Effects of Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Ibuprofen, available under the brand Advil, is a pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), which works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain and inflammation. Advil is used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to headache, toothache, backache, menstrual cramps, common cold, muscular aches, arthritis or to reduce fever.
Before Advil Treatment
The FDA warns of some precautions to have before taking Advil. Do not take more than your recommended dose as an Advil overdose can damage your stomach or intestines. Advil should not be used if you are allergic to it, if you have ever had an asthma attack or severe allergic reaction after taking aspirin or an NSAID. It is recommended not to take Advil during the last 3 months of pregnancy unless specifically directed by your healthcare provider.
Please check with your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to take Advil if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, a history of heart attack, stroke, blood clot, heartburn, stomach ulcers, bleeding, liver cirrhosis (chronic liver scarring and failure), kidney disease, asthma, or are taking a diuretic.
Serious Side Effects
Like other NSAIDs, Advil can cause serious side effects. The FDA lists them:
- Increased risk of fatal heart attack or stroke (especially if used for long term or taken in high doses, or if you have heart disease)
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Ulcers (sore on esophagus, stomach, or small intestine
- Tears (perforation) of the esophagus (tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), stomach and intestines (does not matter if short-term or long-term duration, happens without warning symptoms and may be fatal)
There is also an increased risk of getting an ulcer for elders age 60 or older, those with a history of stomach ulcers or bleedings problems, those who take a blood thinning (anticoagulant) or steroid drug, take other drugs containing prescription or nonprescription NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or others), those who have 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product, or take more or for a longer time than directed.
Common Side Effects
The common side effects of Advil are upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, headache, nervousness, mild itching and rash, and ringing in the ears.
While taking Advil, avoid drinking alcohol as it may increase the risk of stomach bleeding. Also, simultaneous use of Advil and aspirin should be avoided because ibuprofen can make aspirin less effective in protecting your heart and blood vessels. Also, look for signs of a heart attack or stroke,chest pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, and feeling short of breath (Advil label reported by the FDA).
When to Contact the Doctor
The FDA advises to stop using Advil and call your doctor if you have:
- Changes in your vision
- Rapid weight gain
- Signs of stomach bleeding
- Bloody or tarry stools
- Coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Liver problems
- Upper stomach pain
- Tired feeling
- Flu-like symptoms
You should also inform your doctor if you have a loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), kidney problems, little or no urinating, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath, low red blood cells (anemia), and pale skin.
In addition, notify your doctor if you feel light-headed, are short of breath, have a rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating, severe skin reaction, fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, or skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
About Pharmacogenetic Testing
Advil is primarily metabolized in the liver by the gene polymoprhism CYP2C9. The gene polymorphism CYP2C8 may also have a role in the metabolism of Advil. Research has shown that those with a homozygous or double heterozygous CYP2C38 or CYP2C93 variant alleles have a low metabolism response for Advil. Pharmacogenetics testing allows your provider to analyze your gene markers and determine whether you can take a particular drug or not, based on your specific genetic information.
Know Your Risk with the Rxight® Genetic Test
The Rxight® pharmacogenetics test from MD Labs can take the guesswork out of knowing if Advil and over 200 drugs on the market work for you. With these results, your physician can determine whether you can take a drug as recommended, or need a reduced dose, or should be taking an entirely different medication, all determined by genetic markers in the Rxight pharmacogenetics test. Ask your provider to prescribe the Rxight® test. It could make a difference in your experience of side effects, not only for Advil, but also for over 200 presciption and over-the-counter (OTC) medications on the market. You and your physician can use these results over the lifetime of your personalized medical care.
Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; and Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
Read more about Rxight® Drug Sensitivity Testing