How Long Does It Take For Ibuprofen To Work?


If you are reading this post, we are sure that you want to know few important details about the widely used medication – “Ibuprofen”. If yes, then here are answers to the most frequently asked questions from various consumers around the world. So, we will tell you what is ibuprofen, how long does it take for ibuprofen to work, how long does ibuprofen last, side effects of ibuprofen, ibuprofen dosage for children and adults, ibuprofen during pregnancy and lots more. Read on.

What Is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a NSAID (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug) or painkiller used to treat the symptoms of fever, menstrual pain (Primary dysmenorrhea) and arthritis. Ibuprofen blocks the prostaglandins production (these are substances a human body releases in response to injury and illness). Prostaglandins are released in the brain, causing swelling and pain. Thereby, leading to fever. The painkilling effects of ibuprofen begin soon once the dose is taken. However, its anti-inflammatory effects may take a little longer (perhaps, few weeks).

How Does Ibuprofen Work?

Since ibuprofen is a painkiller, it works by affecting the chemicals called “prostaglandins”. As said above, prostaglandins are substances released in the brain in response to injury and illness. They cause inflammation, pain and finally leading to fever. Now, when a person takes a dose of Ibuprofen, the painkilling effects begin soon. However, the anti-inflammatory effects might take longer.

How Long Does It Take For Ibuprofen To Work?

As a consumer, you will surely want to know how long does ibuprofen take to work? According to our research and what health experts had to say, Ibuprofen takes about 15 to 30 minutes to kick in and 1 to 2 hours to take effect. But this also depends on what is there in your stomach or what you have eaten recently. If you use Ibuprofen in its liquid form, it works faster because your body doesn’t have to break down any caplet/tablet/capsule. It easily enters your bloodstream and gives relief from pain. Also, understand that every human is different. For some it can even take less than 15 minutes to work. Since ibuprofen has a ½ life of two hours, it works its best within this period. Hence, an individual should feel better by 30 minutes to an hour.

How Fast Does Ibuprofen Work ?

As we told earlier, ibuprofen the pain killer works very faster nearly 15 minutes to show its pain killing effect. It depends on the human body condition too. It acts best for back pain, toothache, pain due to arthritis, period pain ,strains and pains. It works through reducing hormones that arises pain and swelling in the body. However, it works in full efficient way in the first 2 hours. As the time goes, the strength of the medicine also reduced.

Note: Never take Ibuprofen than what has been prescribed to you because you do not know how much your body absorbs. If you do not eat something healthy prior taking Ibuprofen, you might throw up. Keep in mind that Ibuprofen has to be consumed with food.

How Long Does Ibuprofen Last?

The painkilling effects of ibuprofen start soon after the dose is taken. However, the anti-inflammatory effects take some time. It can take even 3 weeks to get you best results. The half-life of Ibuprofen is about 2 hours, meaning that after two hours, only ½ of the active dose will be present in the system. After 3 half-lives (or 6 hours) there is 1/8th remaining, which isn’t enough to make out any effects. After 12 half-lives (or 1 day), there is only 1/4096th remaining or almost none. In short, it lasts only for 4 to 6 hours.

How Often Can You Take Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen can be taken 3 to 4 times in a day with an interval of 4 to 6 hours (but make sure to take with food). Ibuprofen is available in 200 mg capsules and the maximum advised dosage is 1200 mg (6 tablets) a day. But this dosage is good for minor health problems and should not be exceeded without your doctor’s advice.

 What Forms Do Ibuprofen Come In?

Many companies, under different brands, manufacture Ibuprofen. This medication comes in 4 forms:

  • Caplets or tablets
  • Liquids
  • Gels
  • Sprays

What Is Ibuprofen Used For?

children's ibuprofen dosage

Ibuprofen, an easily available OTC and painkiller is used for treating the below:

Side Effects Of Ibuprofen

Every medication comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. Hence, ibuprofen is no exception.

The common side effects of Ibuprofen include:

The following side effects of Ibuprofen are less common:

  • Stomach inflammation
  • Rashes or skin allergies
  • Edema (or Fluid retention)
  • Dizziness
  • Wheezing (trouble in breathing)
  • Constipation
  • Hypertension (or high blood pressure)
  • Worsens asthma symptoms

Rare side effects of Ibuprofen include:

  • Black stools (malaena)
  • Vomit that has blood (hematemesis)

Note: Few women have reduced their fertility after using Ibuprofen for a long time. We advice you not to take the medication unless a doctor prescribes it.

Under What Brand Names Are Ibuprofen Sold?

The other Ibuprofen brands include:

  • Ibu
  • Motrin
  • Advil
  • Midol
  • Brufen
  • Genpril
  • Calprofen
  • Nuprin
  • Nurofen
  • Cuprofen

Who Shouldn’t Use Ibuprofen?

A person should not be taking Ibuprofen if:

  • He or she is sensitive to aspirin or a NSAID
  • He or she has peptic ulcer
  • He or she has heart problems

Ibuprofen should never be used if a person has ever had:

Ibuprofen Warnings

If you buy Ibuprofen, you will see that it has 2 black-box warnings, which are:

  1. Ibuprofen may increase the chances of heart problems and has been associated with strokes, blood clots and heart attacks, which can be fatal.
  2. Ibuprofen may damage the stomach’s lining and increase the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.

A person should never use ibuprofen if he or she is allergic to it. Also, individuals who are soon to undergo heart surgeries, especially CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft), should avoid ibuprofen. Always speak to your doctor before taking Ibuprofen, especially if any of the below applies to you:

  • CHF (Congestive Heart Failure)
  • Strong allergies like hives
  • Asthma
  • Low red blood cells count (severe anemia)
  • Recent heart strokes or attacks
  • Increased skull pressure
  • Smoke
  • Heavy drinker
  • SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematous)
  • Bleeding disorders

Ibuprofen Dosage

The widely used OTC medication, Ibuprofen comes in capsules or tablets of 200 mg whereas the prescription dose comes in 400 mg, 600 mg, and 800 mg pills.

For children above 12 years and adults, the usual Ibuprofen dose is 1 to 2 tablets for every 4 to 6 hours. Never take more than 12 tablets (2400 mg) of ibuprofen in a day. On the other hand, prescription doses range from 400 – 800 mg, which can be taken every 6 to 8 hours. However, it shouldn’t exceed 3200 mg in a day.

Note: Ibuprofen has to be taken with food / after meals. And a children’s ibuprofen dosage varies from one to another.

What Happens If You Overdose Ibuprofen?

An ibuprofen overdose can be deadly. In such a case, contact a doctor immediately or call the helpline at (800) 222-1222 FREE.

What Happens If You Miss An Ibuprofen Dose?

If you miss an ibuprofen dose, take it once you remember. But skip it if it is almost time for the next dose. Don’t take an additional dose just to make up the earlier one.

Is Ibuprofen Safe For Kids?

According to National Health Service (NHS), ibuprofen can be given to kids above 3 months, given that they weigh 5 kilograms. Also, note that ibuprofen should be given to kids only if the doctor recommends. Before administering Ibuprofen to your kid, bring to your doctor’s notice if he or she is allergic to NSAIDs (including aspirin) or any of the problems mentioned below:

Note: Call your doctor if your kid experiences unusual bruising or bleeding.

How To Give Ibuprofen To A Child?

ibuprofen dosage

Before giving the Ibuprofen to kids, require an advice from the physician. Ibuprofen is the best medicine for kids when they get a fever or suffering from some sort of pain. Parents uses Ibuprofen often to reduce the fever. But instead of reducing the fever, it might hike up the temperature when Ibuprofen is given as overdose. Generally the doctors suggest the combination of Ibuprofen plus paracetamol in order to eliminate the side effects .

Here are instructions you should follow while giving ibuprofen to kids:

  • Give ibuprofen with food to avoid stomach upset.
  • Chewable tablets should be crushed properly and mixed with food/chewed. They shouldn’t be swallowed whole.
  • Liquid (suspension, drops) are best for your kid, especially if he or she cannot swallow tablets.
  • Always shake the liquid before you use.
  • Measure the liquid dose carefully. Always use a measuring cup.

If you are giving Ibuprofen Tablet instead of Liquid,

Children must not receive the more than 4 doses of Ibuprofen in the 24 hours schedule. It may vary according to the age limits. So you must check the age limits attached at the back of sachet. When it’s come for pain, as we knew Ibuprofen works within 20 to 30 minutes and you must provide 6 hours of gap before the next dose given. If the pain is long term, then you could give the Ibuprofen to few weeks regularly. After the few weeks, if the pain does not stop see to the physician. If your kid is facing the unusual symptoms like vomiting or dizziness within the 30 minutes of swallowing the ibuprofen tablet then it’s an immediate sign to see the physician.

What To Do If Your Kid Misses An Ibuprofen Dose?

The missed dose of ibuprofen must be given once you remember but skip it if it is time for the next. Don’t give double dose just to make up the earlier one. Wait 6 hours between every dose. Consult with your doctor about children’s ibuprofen dosages before administering it to your child.

Safety Measures To Take Before Giving Ibuprofen To A Child

Talk to a pharmacist or doctor if your kid is allergic to yellow dye (tartrazine) or has PKU (phenylketonuria) because this medicine might contain phenylalanine or tartrazine. There are few medicines, which shouldn’t be taken with ibuprofen. Hence, it is vital to tell a doctor if your kid takes any other medicine (can be prescription, OTC, herbal products or supplements).

Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol

Tylenol (or Acetaminophen) gives relief from pain but unlike NSAIDs like ibuprofen, this doesn’t have any effect on swelling (inflammation). Probably because Tylenol (Acetaminophen) works differently than NSAIDs and ibuprofen. Unlike ibuprofen, Tylenol doesn’t cause acid reflux or stomach problems.

Is Ibuprofen Safe For Elders?

Older persons must be extra careful when taking ibuprofen, as it can increase the risk of falls. NSAIDs, which are available as OTC can cause confusion, extreme sleepiness, loss of balance, stomach problems and dizziness. Hence, a low dose is safe for elder patients.

Ibuprofen and Pregnancy

Because the peril of harming an unborn baby differs during pregnancy, NSAIDs like ibuprofen comes under 2 categories:

  • First, women who are in their 29 pregnancy weeks, ibuprofen can harm the fetus.
  • Secondly, women who are in their 30 weeks pregnancy and ahead, ibuprofen must be taken only in situations where there is no safer option available.



According to studies, Ibuprofen can cause birth defects. Also, Ibuprofen is found in breast milk. Hence, avoid using this drug if you are breastfeeding. If you are planning to get pregnant or you are already pregnant, talk to your doctor before using ibuprofen.

What Medicines Can Interact With Ibuprofen?

You must have heard of the phenomenon “Drug Interaction”. This happens when a medicine interferes or interacts with the other. We have listed few common interactions. Check with your doctor if you are using these:

  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers – These are usually indometacin, naproxen and diclofenac (Voltarol). If you are taking these, avoid ibuprofen as it can increase the chances of internal stomach bleeding.
  • Antihypertensive pills – used for hypertension or high blood pressure.
  • Aspirin – When ibuprofen is taken with aspirin, it can significantly increase the jeopardy of internal stomach bleeding.
  • Digoxin – This is used to treat atrial fibrillation. When ibuprofen is taken with digoxin, it can increase a person’s blood levels.
  • Lithium – This medication is sometimes prescribed for few mental disorders and illnesses. Taking ibuprofen with this can make it hard for your body to remove lithium. Thus, resulting in high and dangerous lithium levels.
  • Tacrolimus – This medicine is used by individuals who have done an organ transplant. When tacrolimus is consumed with ibuprofen, it may cause kidney damage.
  • Methotrexate – This medicine is used for treating auto-immune disorders and cancer. Taking together with Ibuprofen makes it hard for the body to remove methotrexate. Thereby, resulting in deadly methotrexate levels.
  • SSRI antidepressants – When Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) drugs like fluoxetine, citalopram, sertraline and paroxetine are taken with ibuprofen, risk of bleeding rapidly increases.
  • Warfarin – This anticoagulant drug stops blood from clotting. However, when it is taken with Ibuprofen, it reduces the medicine’s anticoagulant effects.

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