Ibuprofen is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is used primarily for the treatment of fevers, muscle pain, and swelling. It is generally effective in reducing a large variety of pain due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Though very good at what it does ibuprofen has been found to produce a wide variety of side effects in those who take it. The side effects of ibuprofen range from moderate to severe though the most severe ones can generally be avoided if caution and care is exercised. The proper use of ibuprofen can maximize it benefits while mitigating the side effects experienced.
Gastrointestinal side effects
The most commonly associated side effects of ibuprofen are known to effect the gastrointestinal tract. The effects on the gastrointestinal tract are due to ibuprofen's complete inhibition of both cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2.) Ibuprofen's effect on COX-2 is what is responsible for the desired anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of the drug. The inhibition of COX-1 though leads to side effects often manifesting themselves unpleasantly in the gastrointestinal system of those taking ibuprofen. The most common effect experienced is nausea. A lot of times nausea can be either reduced or completely eliminated if ibuprofen is taken along with some food. This helps to reduce the amount of irritation caused. A more severe side effect of ibuprofen upon the gastrointestinal system is the causing bleeding. Repeated high doses of ibuprofen have also been found to often cause ulceration in the stomach. The risk of bleeding and ulceration is also reduced when ibuprofen is taken with a meal or at the very least a small snack. Some users have also found ibuprofen to cause diarrhea or constipation while they are taking it.
Skin side effects
A less common side effect of taking ibuprofen is increased sensitivity of the skin to the sun. This can result in a worse sunburn developing if exposed to the sun for a long period of time. When taking ibuprofen it is always good to be cautious and make sure to apply sunscreen if you will be experiencing prolonged exposure to the sun. Even a rarer occurrence, ibuprofen can cause bullous pemphigoid or symptoms of pemphigoid in some who take ibuprofen. This can result in unsightly and painful blistering of the skin. If blistering or a rash develops use of ibuprofen should be stopped immediately. In rare cases ibuprofen can cause the severe and often fatal skin condition known as Steven-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). This causes a large amount of the skin to die and fall off. Fortunately, the development of SJS is extremely rare with few documented cases.
Other side effects
Other side effects of ibuprofen include the increase of the levels of certain liver enzymes. This is not an issue for those with normally healthy liver enzyme levels, but those with already unhealthy livers should avoid ibuprofen for this reason. Ibuprofen use has also been linked to an increased risk in hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. The link is only established with very high doses of ibuprofen however meaning the over the counter dosage is relatively risk free in this regard.