Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever. It can cause minor digestive side effects. It may cause more severe side effects if you have certain health conditions or take it with other medications.

Advil is one of the name-brand versions of ibuprofen. You may know that it relieves minor aches, pains, and fever. However, you may not know the side effects of this common drug.

Learn what these effects are and when they’re most likely to occur so that you can use this drug safely.

Ibuprofen helps lower fever. It also helps relieve minor pain from:

Ibuprofen belongs to a group of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs temporarily reduce the amount of prostaglandins made by your body.

Your body releases prostaglandins when you have an injury. These hormone-like substances contribute to inflammation, which includes swelling, fever, and increased sensitivity to pain.

Ibuprofen is so widely used that it can be easy to forget this drug can cause side effects. Still, ibuprofen is a drug, and it comes with risks like any other drug.

The more common side effects of ibuprofen are:

Not everyone has these side effects. When they do occur, the effects are usually mild. Many people can prevent these side effects by taking ibuprofen with milk or food.

Serious side effects can also occur. Most of these risks are uncommon and can usually be avoided by taking ibuprofen as recommended.

However, taking too much ibuprofen or taking it for too long can make these serious side effects more likely.

For most people, the risks of heart attack and stroke are rare. However, your risks increase if you use too much ibuprofen or use it for too long. Your risk is also higher if you:

If you have any risk factors or take other drugs, talk to your doctor before using ibuprofen.

Prostaglandins help keep the pressure in your kidneys at the right level to filter the fluids in your body and maintain your blood pressure.

Ibuprofen changes your body’s production of prostaglandins. This change can lead to an imbalance in your body fluid pressure, which can decrease your kidney function and increase your blood pressure.

Symptoms of decreased kidney function include:

Your risk is increased if you:

Prostaglandins also help maintain the constant repair of your stomach lining, which protects you from damage from stomach acid.

Because ibuprofen decreases how much prostaglandin you make, stomach damage such as bleeding and ulcers in the stomach and intestines is a possible side effect.

This side effect is fairly rare. However, the risk increases the longer you use ibuprofen. Other factors that increase your risk include:

  • a history of ulcers or bleeding in your stomach or intestines
  • older age
  • use of oral steroids or the blood thinners known as anticoagulants
  • smoking
  • alcohol use, specifically more than three alcoholic beverages per day
Did you know?

If you have severe stomach pain or you notice bloody or tarry stools, you may have symptoms of an ulcer. Contact your doctor right away and stop taking ibuprofen.

Some people have an allergic reaction to ibuprofen, but this is also rare.

If you’ve had allergic reactions to aspirin, don’t take ibuprofen. If you start to have trouble breathing or your face or throat starts to swell, contact your doctor right away and stop taking ibuprofen.

There’s a very rare risk of liver failure after taking ibuprofen. If you have liver disease, talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen. Stop taking ibuprofen and contact your doctor right away if you start to have any of the following symptoms:

These may be signs of liver damage or liver failure.

Ibuprofen can be a safe and easy over-the-counter remedy (OTC) for minor aches and pains. However, if you don’t use it as recommended, ibuprofen can possibly be harmful.

It’s always smart to talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen if you’re not sure if you should use it. If you experience bothersome side effects or believe you may have taken too much, contact your doctor right away.

Most of the serious side effects result from taking the drug when you shouldn’t, taking too much of it, or taking it for too long. You can reduce your risk of side effects by using the smallest possible dose for shortest possible time.