Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can be helpful when you need relief from pain and inflammation. Your doctor may recommend using ibuprofen when you are suffering from a headache, dental pain, muscle aches, or menstrual cramps. While ibuprofen can be an effective pain reliever, there are times when you should refrain from using this particular medication. Side effects of stomach irritation, thinned blood, and risks to your kidney may mean you should skip using this drug.
11. When You Suffer from Heart Disease
The FDA requires that ibuprofen carry the warning that it may increase the risk of heart disease. Taking ibuprofen may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, or clotting disorders. You can find ibuprofen marketed under the brand names of Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin. If you are not currently suffering from heart disease, you can decrease your risk of ibuprofen-induced heart disease by following the package directions. Avoid using this product for a lengthy amount of time.
10. When You Are Taking Blood Thinners
Ibuprofen, like other NSAIDs, can thin your blood. This makes it a dangerous medication to take if you are taking blood thinners. If your doctor has prescribed Coumadin (warfarin) to thin your blood and prevent heart disease, you will need to avoid taking ibuprofen. Plavix is an anticoagulant medicine that helps prevent heart attack or stroke. Your doctor may also prescribe this medication if you have certain circulation disorders. Taking ibuprofen with blood thinners or anticoagulants can lead to a dangerous amount of bleeding and excessive blood loss.
9. When You Have Stomach Ulcers
NSAIDs can be irritating to your stomach, causing stomach upset, abdominal pain, and ulcers. Studies show ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can trigger ulcers in several ways. First, they can directly irritate the lining of your stomach. Second, they can lead to excess stomach acid production by inhibiting prostaglandins. Thirdly, they can interfere with your body’s ability to defend and repair damage to the lining of your stomach. If you suffer from stomach ulcers, using ibuprofen can worsen this condition and lead to the development of further stomach issues.
8. When You Are Drinking Alcohol
Combining ibuprofen with alcohol can not only irritate the lining of your gastrointestinal tract but also lead to GI bleeding. One study found that taking ibuprofen while drinking alcohol increased the risk of GI bleeding no matter how much alcohol was consumed. This study went on to say that those with the highest risk of stomach bleeds were those who heavily used both alcohol and aspirin or ibuprofen. In addition to the risk of GI bleeding, mixing ibuprofen with alcohol can increase your risk of kidney damage.
7. When You Have a Kidney Disease
Avoid taking ibuprofen or other NSAIDs if you suffer from decreased kidney function. A study published in Pharmaceuticals states that ibuprofen inhibits enzymes in the kidneys, which can contribute to acute kidney failure. If you suffer from kidney disease, check with your doctor to find out which pain medications are safe for you to take.
6. When You Are Pregnant
If possible, you should avoid using ibuprofen when you are pregnant. A study in Human Reproduction suggests that taking ibuprofen in the first trimester of pregnancy can affect the reproductive organs of a developing female fetus. Additionally, according to the package insert, you should refrain from taking ibuprofen in the third trimester of pregnancy. In the third trimester, ibuprofen can close the baby’s ductus arteriosus, a critical blood vessel that bypasses the lungs before birth. During labor and delivery, ibuprofen is associated with more prolonged labor and an increased risk of stillbirth.
5. When You Are Allergic to NSAIDs
If you are allergic to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, taking these medicines may trigger an immune response that includes hives, rash, and difficulty breathing. If you suffer from hypersensitivity to aspirin, you may also react poorly to ibuprofen. The FDA warns against taking ibuprofen if taking this drug, aspirin, or other NSAIDs has caused asthma, itching, or rashes in the past. If you suffer from aspirin-induced asthma, ibuprofen may also trigger episodes of asthma.
4. When You Are Anemic
Anemia is a condition in which your blood lacks the appropriate number of red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs and tissues. Excessive bleeding, lack of vitamin-rich nutrients, and blood disorders can cause this condition. In some rare cases, overuse of ibuprofen can trigger hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are manufactured. Ibuprofen may lead to anemia by causing gastrointestinal bleeding, or by a mechanism that scientists do not yet understand.
3. When It Makes Your Ears Ring
Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAIDs may cause an annoying condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus refers to noise or ringing in the ears. Some medications cause tinnitus that goes away soon after discontinuing the drugs. However, the American Tinnitus Association lists ibuprofen and other NSAIDs as medications that can cause permanent tinnitus and damage your hearing. Other medicines that may cause tinnitus include water pills, certain antibiotics, some anti-cancer meds, and quinine.
2. When You Are About to Work Out Strenuously
If you frequently pop a couple of ibuprofen before a strenuous workout to prevent muscle aches and pains, you may be causing your body more harm than good. A study in PLoS One showed that heavy exercise can lead to harmful changes in an otherwise healthy gut. Taking ibuprofen can further increase your risk of damage to the healthy lining of your gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, a study in the Emergency Medicine Journal found that ultramarathoners who took ibuprofen had an increased incidence of kidney damage. Skip pre-medicating yourself before a workout and use ibuprofen sparingly when aches and pains arise.
1. As the Sole Treatment for a UTI
If you are suffering from a urinary tract infection, do not rely solely on ibuprofen to relieve your pain and treat the infection. Ibuprofen may be helpful to alleviate pain when used in combination with an antibiotic. However, a PLoS Medicine study found that women who relied on ibuprofen alone to treat a UTI took longer to kick the infection. An untreated UTI can lead to permanent kidney damage and a life-threatening infection called sepsis.