How long does it take for ibuprofen to work

How long does it take for ibuprofen to work?

How long does it take for ibuprofen to work?

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). It’s commonly used to treat symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and fever.

This medication works by blocking an enzyme that aids in the production of prostaglandins. But how long does it take for the effects of ibuprofen to take effect (or work)?

Continue reading to discover more.

What exactly is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a pain reliever that is used to treat a variety of ailments including headaches, menstrual cramps, tooth pain, muscle pains, and more.

It can also be used to lower fevers and relieve minor cold or flu symptoms. It’s an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine) that works by preventing your body from producing certain natural compounds that cause inflammation. As a result, edema, fever, and pain are reduced.

How does ibuprofen work?

It belongs to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) family of medications (NSAID). When you experience an injury, your body produces prostaglandins. Swelling, fever, and heightened pain sensitivity are all symptoms of inflammation caused by these hormone-like chemicals.

By taking ibuprofen, it is able to inhibit the production of these prostaglandins, hence preventing or reducing swelling, fever, and pain.

How long does it take for ibuprofen to work?

The effects of ibuprofen usually take around 30 minutes to become apparent. This timescale, however, might range from one individual to the next for a variety of reasons [source].

When ibuprofen starts to act, you should notice a reduction in discomfort and temperature. Ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory benefits normally take a week or more to kick in.

After 1 to 2 hours, ibuprofen levels in your system should be at their highest. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is swiftly eliminated from the body. This is one of the reasons you may need to take a dose every few hours, depending on the disease being treated [source].

What factors influence how long it takes to work?

Symptom alleviation may come fast for some people, while it may take longer for others. This is due to the fact that a number of factors might influence how long a medicine takes to work.

The following are some factors that may influence how quickly ibuprofen begins to work for you:

  • your weight
  • if you are taking any other medications at the same time
  • your age
  • your overall health
  • if you have food in your stomach
  • the dosage that’s taken

What are the ibuprofen side effects?

Ibuprofen, like any other medicine, has a variety of adverse effects, some of which are both common and serious. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent ibuprofen side effects.

  • stomach pain
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • gas
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Here are some severe side effects of ibuprofen

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Ulcer
  • Bleeding in the stomach and intestine
  • Liver failure
  • Allergic reaction

What is the usual dose?

Ibuprofen is commonly sold over-the-counter (OTC) in 200-milligram (mg) pills. It’s best to take the smallest dose possible to alleviate your symptoms. One ibuprofen pill is usually taken every 4 to 6 hours by mouth. If the first pill fails to relieve symptoms, a second pill might be taken.

In one day, don’t take more than 1,200 mg of ibuprofen. This translates to a maximum of 6 pills of OTC ibuprofen each day.

Also, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, don’t take ibuprofen for more than 10 days.

An unsettled stomach is a common side effect of ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. As a result, taking ibuprofen with meals or milk may be beneficial.

Children’s dosage

Children can be given ibuprofen in the form of a liquid solution, a chewable tablet, or a pill. The age of the child will determine which form is best.

In children under the age of 12, the dosage of ibuprofen is determined by the child’s body weight.

If your kid requires ibuprofen, consult their pediatrician for the appropriate dosage and frequency of administration.

Ibuprofen should be avoided by whom?

Ibuprofen is typically safe; however, it is not appropriate for everyone. If you have any of the following conditions, you should avoid taking ibuprofen:

  • have previously had an adverse response to ibuprofen, aspirin, or another form of NSAID
  • have a peptic ulcer or previously had one
  • are about to have or have already had a surgical procedure
  • are pregnant

Ibuprofen can raise the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, and stroke. It’s also possible that it’ll interact with other prescriptions you’re taking. Do well to consult your doctor or pharmacist before you take it.

Frequently asked questions

Is tramadol compatible with ibuprofen?

Yes, it is correct. It is okay to take tramadol and ibuprofen on the same day. They don’t appear to interact in any way. Be careful to follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions. Both of these drugs are used to treat pain.

We already published an article on this, you can check it out: Can tramadol be taken with ibuprofen

What happens if I forget to take an ibuprofen dose?

You are less likely to miss a dose of ibuprofen because it is used to relieve pain. If you miss or skip a dose, do not take two doses at the same time. Simply stick to your regular dosing schedule.

What is the difference between ibuprofen and paracetamol or aspirin?

All the 3 of these (ibuprofen, paracetamol, and aspirin) are pain relievers but from different pharmacological classes. Their difference is based on their chemical structure and how they work.

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, and aspirin are all effective. Period pain, toothaches, and migraines can all be relieved with ibuprofen. Back pain, sprains, and strains, as well as arthritis pain, might all benefit from it.

For mild to severe pain, paracetamol is commonly used. It may be more effective than ibuprofen in treating headaches and stomachaches.

Ibuprofen and aspirin function in a similar way. They are effective for period pain and migraines. They can, however, make your periods heavier if you have heavy periods.

Is it safe to take ibuprofen gel, mousse, or spray with ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid?

Using ibuprofen gel, mousse, or spray at the same time as taking ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid will not hurt you.

However, if you’re currently taking ibuprofen by mouth, the gel, mousse, or spray will provide no further benefit. These are best used when you have pain under your skin that is localized to a limited part of your body.

Is ibuprofen going to interfere with my contraception?

Ibuprofen, whether taken orally or topically, has no effect on contraception, including the combination pill and emergency contraception.

Your contraceptive tablets may not protect you from pregnancy if ibuprofen makes you sick (vomit). To find out what to do, look at the pill package.

Is it safe to use ibuprofen for an extended period of time?

If you still require ibuprofen after 10 days (or three days if you are under the age of 18), consult your doctor before continuing.

If your doctor recommends ibuprofen, you can take it routinely for many years as long as you don’t exceed the suggested amount per day.

If you have a long-term need for ibuprofen pills, capsules, granules, or liquid and are at risk of developing a stomach ulcer, your doctor may prescribe a drug to help protect your stomach.

If your symptoms worsen or remain longer than 2 weeks after using ibuprofen on your skin, consult your doctor before continuing to use it.

Is there anything I should avoid eating or drinking?

While taking any sort of ibuprofen, you can eat and drink normally. Ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid should be taken with food to avoid stomach distress. It should not be taken on an empty stomach.

Is it true that ibuprofen causes stomach ulcers?

Ibuprofen can cause stomach or gut ulcers if you take it for a long time or in large doses as tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid. If you need to take ibuprofen and are at risk of developing a stomach ulcer, your doctor may prescribe a stomach-protection medication.

Is it safe to drink wine when on ibuprofen?

Drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen is usually safe. Drinking too much alcohol can irritate your stomach if you’re taking ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules, or liquid.


Ibuprofen is a pain reliever that can also aid with inflammation and fever. While the time it takes for ibuprofen to work varies, it normally takes around half an hour to notice symptom relief.

If you have certain health issues or are taking certain drugs, ibuprofen may not be suggested. Consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about using ibuprofen.


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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