You can overdose on ibuprofen. You should always take it exactly as directed on the label or as recommended by your doctor.
Taking too much ibuprofen, which is called an overdose, can cause dangerous side effects, including damage to your stomach or intestines. In rare cases, an overdose can be fatal.
If you think that you or someone you know has overdosed on ibuprofen, contact your local poison center or your local emergency services. In the United States, you can reach the poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222.
Ibuprofen is an over-the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (OTC NSAID) used to treat inflammation, fever, and mild pain. The medication is used by millions to treat:
Some brand names for ibuprofen are:
- Pamprin IB
Read on to learn how to safely use this medication as well as the signs of an overdose.
The recommended dose of ibuprofen depends on a person’s age.
The recommended dosage for adults is one or two 200 milligram (mg) tablets every four to six hours. Adults should not exceed 800 mg at once or 3,200 mg per day.
Adults over the age of 60 should take as little ibuprofen as possible to manage their symptoms. Older adults have a higher risk of kidney and gastrointestinal side effects.
To determine the safe dosage for children, you need to know the child’s weight and the formulation of ibuprofen you’re using.
Ibuprofen for children is available in infant drops, liquids, and chewable tablets. Liquid measurements are given in milliliters (mL). Make sure to read the label and measure carefully.
Never give your child more than four doses in one day.
|Weight||50 mg/1.25 mL infant drops dosage||100 mg/5 mL liquid dosage||50 mg/1 chewable tablet dosage|
|12 to 17 pounds||1.25 mL (50 mg)||Ask your doctor.||Ask your doctor.|
|18 to 23 pounds||1.875 mL (75 mg)||Ask your doctor.||Ask your doctor.|
|24 to 35 pounds||2.5 mL (100 mg)||5 mL (100 mg)||2 tablets (100 mg)|
|36 to 47 pounds||3.75 mL (150 mg)||7.5 mL (150 mg)||3 tablets (150 mg)|
|48 to 59 pounds||5 mL (200 mg)||10 mL (200 mg)||4 tablets (200 mg)|
|60 to 71 pounds||n/a||12.5 mL (250 mg)||5 tablets (250 mg)|
|72 to 95 pounds||n/a||15 mL (300 mg)||6 tablets (300 mg)|
|over 95 pounds||n/a||20 mL (400 mg)||8 tablets (400 mg)|
Don’t give ibuprofen to children under six months of age.
For infants of age six months to a year, the safe dose of infants’ formulation depends on their weight.
|Weight||50 mg/1.25 mL infant drops dosage|
|under 12 pounds||Ask your doctor before administering this medication.|
|12 to 17 pounds||1.25 mL (50 mg)|
|18 to 23 pounds||1.875 mL (75 mg)|
Certain medications can increase your risk of having an overdose of ibuprofen.
Don’t take any of the following medications with ibuprofen without first consulting your doctor:
- aspirin, because it may increase the risk of serious side effects
- diuretics (water pills), due to an increased risk of kidney failure
- lithium, due to an increased risk of toxicity
- methotrexate, due to an increased risk of toxicity
- anticoagulants (blood thinners), such as warfarin, because it can increase your risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding
Symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose
Not everyone will experience symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose right away. Some people won’t have any visible symptoms at all.
If you do experience symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose, they’re usually mild. Mild symptoms may include:
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- stomach pain
- blurred vision
Severe symptoms can include:
- difficult or slow breathing
- hypotension (low blood pressure)
- little to no urine production
- severe headache
Infants who overdose may show signs of lethargy (unresponsiveness) or apnea (temporary cessation of breathing) following a more serious overdose of ibuprofen.
What should you do if you suspect an overdose?
If you or someone you know has taken more than the maximum recommended dose of ibuprofen, contact your local poison center. In the United States, you can reach the poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222. You can call this number 24 hours a day. Stay on the line for further instructions.
If possible, have the following information ready:
- the person’s age, height, weight, and gender
- how much ibuprofen was ingested
- when the last dose was taken
- if the person also took other drugs, supplements, or had any alcohol
You can also receive guidance by using the poison center’s webPOISONCONTROL online tool.
- Text "POISON" to 797979 to save the contact information for poison control to your smartphone.
If you can’t access a phone or computer, go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Don’t wait until symptoms start. Some people who overdose on ibuprofen won’t show symptoms right away.
Treating an overdose
At the hospital, doctors will monitor breathing, heart rate, and other vital signs. A doctor may insert a tube through the mouth to look for internal bleeding.
You may also receive the following treatments:
- medications that make you throw up
- gastric lavage (stomach pumping), only if the drug was ingested within the last hour
- activated charcoal
- breathing support, such as oxygen or a breathing machine (ventilator)
- intravenous fluids
Complications of an ibuprofen overdose
An overdose of ibuprofen can cause severe problems in the gastrointestinal tract. These include:
- stomach or intestinal perforation, which can be fatal
- liver or kidney failure
With prompt medical treatment, you’re likely to recover from an ibuprofen overdose, but some people develop liver, kidney, or stomach issues. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, shouldn’t be used by people with a prior history of ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Always read product labels carefully and take the smallest amount of ibuprofen possible that will help relieve your symptoms.
An adult shouldn’t take more than 3,200 mg of ibuprofen per day. A safe dose for children is much less than that. If you or someone you know has taken more than this, call your local poison center or your local emergency services.
If you experience symptoms of an ulcer after taking ibuprofen, stop taking ibuprofen and call your doctor.