Why do we use pain reliever tablets

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The active substance Ibuprofen is one of the best-known remedies for mild to moderately severe pain, fever and inflammation. It is one of the best-selling active ingredients for over-the-counter pain treatment and is considered safe and well tolerated. In some cases, ibuprofen causes side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort. The dose of ibuprofen should be reduced in certain patient groups such as children and adolescents. Here you can read everything you need to know about the active ingredient ibuprofen, its effects and side effects.

This is how ibuprofen works

The active ingredient ibuprofen, like acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and diclofenac, belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs / anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are among the most frequently prescribed drugs worldwide. In Germany, ibuprofen is the most frequently prescribed representative of this group of active ingredients. It primarily inhibits the formation of prostaglandins - these are inflammation-mediating tissue hormones that are also involved in the development of fever and pain. The result is an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and slightly fever-lowering effect. This effect lasts for about four to six hours. The active ingredient is metabolized by the liver and half of it is excreted via the kidneys after one to two and a half hours (half-life).

When is ibuprofen used?

Ibuprofen is used to treat mild and moderate pain, such as musculoskeletal pain (such as muscle pain, joint problems), headaches and migraines, and toothache. As a single preparation or in combination with other active ingredients, the anti-inflammatory pain reliever is also used for colds and flu-like infections.

Ibuprofen is suitable both for short-term self-medication and for long-term therapy supervised by a doctor.

This is how ibuprofen is used

Ibuprofen is often used in the form of tablets or prolonged-release tablets. Children like to use flavored ibuprofen juice or ibuprofen suppositories, which are absorbed particularly quickly into the bloodstream. There are also effervescent granules and ampoules (for injection) with this active ingredient.

Especially for athletes and people with musculoskeletal pain (such as joint pain, muscle pain), ibuprofen gel (often referred to as ibuprofen pain gel) and ibuprofen ointment are available that allow a high dose of active ingredient to be applied locally. The body's metabolism is less stressed than when the active ingredient is taken orally. This lowers the risk of side effects.

Ibuprofen dosage

The ibuprofen dosage of the individual dosage forms varies. For example, there are tablets with 200, 400 or 600 mg of active ingredient each. How often and in what quantity a preparation should and may be used depends on the strength of the dose. Precise information can be found in the package insert (package insert).

What are the side effects of ibuprofen?

The desired effect of relieving pain, lowering fever and reducing inflammation can be accompanied by side effects - ibuprofen inhibits the production of the protective mucous layer of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach. This can cause heartburn, abdominal pain, vomiting, and even the formation of gastrointestinal ulcers, among other things. Such gastrointestinal complaints (gastrointestinal complaints) are typical and common side effects of NSAIDs. Other undesirable effects of this group of substances are, for example, hypersensitivity reactions, blood formation disorders and functional disorders of the liver or kidneys.

To avoid side effects, NSAIDs should generally be used in the lowest dose that has the desired effect. In addition, the duration of use should be as short as possible.

If long-term use of the anti-inflammatory and pain reliever is necessary, the doctor can prescribe additional medication to protect the stomach. In practice, proton pump inhibitors are often used for this purpose.

Ibuprofen overdose

Anyone who takes an overdose of ibuprofen must expect increased side effects (especially gastrointestinal complaints). Internal bleeding may even occur. In addition, the kidneys and liver may be severely damaged.

What should be considered when taking ibuprofen?

The pain reliever and fever medication (like other NSAIDs) should not be taken if:

  • Pre-existing ulcers in the stomach or duodenum, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Intolerance to other active substances from the group of NSAIDs

Ibuprofen interactions

Anyone who is treated with low-dose acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for anticoagulation should only use the pain reliever with caution - the “blood-thinning” effect of ASA may be reduced.

Caution is also advised when using active ingredients at the same time that can only be used safely in a narrow dose range (narrow therapeutic range), and ibuprofen - the effects and side effects of the other active ingredients can increase dramatically. This applies, for example, to digoxin (heart medicine), lithium (mental illness) and phenytoin (epilepsy).

In addition, all NSAIDs can increase the effects of oral diabetes medications and decrease those of diuretics.

Ibuprofen and alcohol

Health professionals recommend avoiding alcohol while using ibuprofen. Otherwise, there may be unpredictable interactions and increased side effects.

Ibuprofen: pregnancy and lactation

Ibuprofen can be used temporarily during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Before doing this, however, a doctor should be consulted, just as any medication intake during pregnancy should be discussed with the doctor. All NSAIDs should be avoided in the last trimester of pregnancy.

During breastfeeding, the pain reliever and fever medicine can be used in consultation with the doctor. In studies on women who took ibuprofen while breastfeeding, no side effects could be observed in the child. In addition, the pain reliever and fever reliever can also be used on babies themselves on a doctor's order.

How to get medication with ibuprofen

The active ingredient ibuprofen is available in the form of tablets, orodispersible tablets, soft capsules, drinking granules, juice and suppositories up to a dosage of 400 milligrams (for adults) in pharmacies without a prescription.
Preparations with an ibuprofen dosage of 400 milligrams or more and preparations for injection require a prescription.

Since when has ibuprofen been known?

Ibuprofen was developed and patented by a British company in the early 1960s. In 1969 it came onto the market there as a prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis. About 15 years later, over-the-counter ibuprofen supplements became available in the UK for the first time. In Germany in 1989 tablets with 200 milligrams, then tablets with 400 milligrams of ibuprofen, became available without a prescription.

More interesting facts about ibuprofen

The pain reliever is part of numerous preparations for self-medication for headaches and migraines. For this purpose, the active ingredient is often used as a salt of the body's own amino acid lysine (ibuprofen lysinate), which means that it is absorbed more quickly. This accelerates the onset of action. This effect has been confirmed in studies. With self-medication, however, it should be noted that this faster absorption and effect can only be achieved if the drug is taken on an empty stomach.

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