When you think of common remedies for muscle aches, headaches, cramps, or arthritis, ibuprofen is likely near the top of your list. While this over-the-counter medication has proven effective at treating a number of minor ailments, long-term use of ibuprofen has some potentially serious side effects.
How Does Ibuprofen Work?
Ibuprofen is found within a group of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In a nutshell, ibuprofen works by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are naturally-occurring chemicals that promote inflammation, pain, and fever and protect the stomach and intestines from acid damage.
How Much Ibuprofen Can You Take?
It’s important to understand how much ibuprofen you can take safely each day in order to avoid adverse effects. In general, the maximum amount of ibuprofen per day is approximately 2,400mg, or 12 tablets. You should never exceed this amount, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
Risks of Long-Term Ibuprofen Use
As with other types of medication, there are potential ibuprofen side effects that exist with any type of use—specifically long term use.
- Prostaglandin reduction, as mentioned above, is why ibuprofen works, but it can also decease blood flow to the kidneys, which can cause acute injuries.
Heart Attack & Stroke Risk
- Users of NSAIDs are at greater risk for heart attack than non-users, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This increased risk exists with both short-term and long-term use.
- Stroke risk can be increased as well with ibuprofen use, particularly with higher doses over a prolonged period of time.
Ulcers & Internal Bleeding
- Prostaglandin reduction can also remove one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms, which is protecting the stomach and intestines from acid damage. The result is an increased risk for bleeding in the stomach, or for holes to develop in the stomach and intestinal lining.
Is Ibuprofen Safe?
According to the FDA, ibuprofen is safe to use. However, those with aspirin allergies, heart complications, stomach or intestinal issues, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and anyone over 60 should consult with their doctor before starting any type of ibuprofen regimen. NSAID alternatives can also be considered if ibuprofen long-term side effects are a concern.