Fever and pain are often treated symptomatically along with the underlying condition. Patients find it hard to handle the pain and high-grade fever associated with certain conditions. Medications for managing fever and pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen belongs to the category of NSAIDs with analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it one among the ideal medications for treating common symptoms, and are considered as relatively safer than certain other categories of medications used for treating pain. For instance, opioids and steroids also deliver similar effects but come with increased risk of adverse outcomes. Here is an in-depth look at the NSAID and the commonly associated side effects of ibuprofen.

Overview of the analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties

Ibuprofen comes with distinct properties. While the analgesic properties are experienced at lower doses, the anti-inflammatory effects are experienced only at higher doses. Available as over the counter medications, Ibuprofen helps manage symptoms that include pain, inflammation and swelling apart from fever. The properties of the medication are attributed to the mechanism of action of Ibuprofen as a noon-selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase (COX). The enzyme COX is involved in the synthesis of mediators that are responsible for the pain and fever, namely prostaglandins and thromboxane.

The inhibition of the activity of both the mediators results in controlling pain, fever and inflammation. COX is classified into COX-1 and COX-2, and ibuprofen acts on both COX-1 and COX-2, thereby delivering twin effects of controlling fever and pain. These enzymes are triggered as the body’s response to certain conditions, and the medication inhibits the synthesizing action, which in turn help manage the symptoms. When taken along with other medications, wherever necessary, to control the underlying conditions, Ibuprofen, helps the patient heal from the condition without commonly associated symptoms.

Common conditions treated with Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is taken for various conditions that include management of toothache, symptoms with common cold and headache. It is also taken by women suffering from menstrual pain, and individuals experiencing pain from sprains. Elderly patients suffering from arthritis and back pain also find symptomatic relief with Ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs. Available as tablets, syrup, or topical applications, the oral form of the medication typically delivers results in about twenty minutes. The topical applications, including gel and spray are fast acting in nature and are intended to treat symptoms in the area of application. Ibuprofen is also an ingredient in other medications that are used to treat certain conditions, such as the flu.

Commonly reported side effects of ibuprofen

With the background information in place, it is now time to look at the commonly reported adverse outcomes of the medication. Without exception, all medications come with own set of adverse effects or undesirable outcomes. This is again classified into mild or moderate symptoms effects and adverse effects. The mild or moderate effects are relatively common in nature, and may not require any medical intervention. The adverse effects are generally rare in occurrence, and may require some form of medial attention depending on the intensity or the persistent nature of the effects.

Some of the extreme or adverse outcomes may require treatment at a healthcare facility, failing which the condition may sometimes manifest into a medical emergency. It is also necessary to add that adverse effects are not necessarily experienced by all users. Some users may experience some effects, while some may not experience any effects whatsoever, and this depends on various factors. For instance, the age of the individual, the health condition and the medications in use by the patient for other existing conditions.

Side effects of the NSAID frequently observed or experienced

Frequently reported or experienced undesirable outcomes include nausea that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting sensations. Individuals on the medication are likely to experience some form of pain, that may usually resolve naturally.  Other effects include possible bloating in the stomach, that may sometimes also be accompanied by diarrhea. On a contrasting note, patients may also end up with constipation.  Another associated symptom is the possibility of indigestion along with pain in the upper abdomen, medically known as dyspepsia.

Other possible outcomes that are considered as undesirable include dizzy feelings that are not attributed to any other condition. The individual may experience throbbing headache, apart from nervous feelings. Visible, easily discernible symptoms include the outbreak of rashes on the skin; these are typically mild in nature. Similarly, individuals may also experience a distinct ringing noise in the ears, that could either be intermittent or constant. Medically known as tinnitus, this feeling is also temporary in nature and may resolve naturally. Finally, individuals are also likely to experience edema, a condition wherein fluid is retained in the body’s tissues. Typically, this occurs in the limb extremities but is also possible in other parts of the body.

Simple precautions to be taken while on ibuprofen

To counter the possible outcomes experienced by individuals, certain simple precautions are necessary to be put in place. For instance, patients are advised to avoid certain responsibilities such as driving or handling machinery that require a high degree of alertness and complete control. This will help prevent any untoward incidents as a result of dizziness. Similarly, patients who have had any allergic reactions in the past to ibuprofen or any other NSAIDs are expected to seek medical advice, before taking the medication.

Individuals who are planning to undergo surgical procedures such as heart surgery or who have undergone heart surgery are advised to look for suitable alternatives from the consulting specialists. Ibuprofen or medications with a similar mechanism of action are considered as unsuitable for certain categories of individuals with specific chronic or persistent problems. For instance, patients with abdominal pain, or frequent heartburn are advised to look for suitable alternatives. Similarly, the medication is unsuitable for individuals with frequent internal bleeding, that could also be a result of stomach ulcers.

Hypertensive patients, and individuals with a history of heart ailments, are also advised to rely on other medications instead of Ibuprofen. Similarly, patients with renal ailments, and patients on diuretics are also advised to seek suitable alternatives. The elderly are expected to exercise caution, when on the medication, and need to take specific medical advice before taking these OTC formulations. As Ibuprofen belongs to the category of NSAIDs, it is necessary to check if any other NSAIDs are already being consumed for other conditions, as this will increase the amount of NSADs in the body.

Certain categories of patients are also advised to seek medical advice before continuing with Ibuprofen. For instance, patients on anticoagulants are not to take the medication due to the mechanism of action. It is also not considered as suitable for patients undergoing treatment for serious conditions, including liver conditions, as this may interfere with certain medications. Patients diagnosed with certain illnesses such as chicken pox; shingles are also expected to look at alternative medications. Similarly, patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are to avoid taking NSAIDs.

How unwanted outcomes generally manifest when on the medication?

It is now time to look at the possible manner in which certain unwanted outcomes may manifest or be indicated among patients on the medication. Typically, the common effects of the medication are seen or experienced during the first weeks of taking the medication, when taken on long term basis. This is also possible when the medication is taken in higher doses. The risk of heart attack or stroke is high, and users need to exercise the required amount of caution when on Ibuprofen.

Ideal actions on observing certain indications or symptoms

To prevent the possibility of serious effects, it is necessary to seek immediate medical intervention on observing specific symptoms or indications. For instance, patients reporting any form of uneasiness or pain in the chest are advised to seek medical attention. Similarly, any difficulty while breathing or abnormal changes in speech, such as slurring are also considered as possible symptoms that need medical intervention. Similarly, a sudden weakness on one side of the body is also regarded as a possible symptom of an adverse condition, and may require an evaluation to rule out cardiovascular events.

Situations that warrant discontinuation of the medication

There are clear thresholds or situations that warrant a discontinuation of the medication. For instance, patients on the medication who experience fainting sensation are expected to stop the medication. Similarly, on observing traces of blood either in the stools or in vomit, individuals are expected to discontinue the medication. Any pain that is persistent in nature and continues for a long period is also indicative of possible adverse outcomes, that makes it necessary to discontinue the medication.

Similarly, individuals with fever that does not reduce, despite being on the medication for as long as three or four days are also advised to seek immediate medical attention to determine the underlying cause and take alternative medications. Patients on the topical formulations of the medication who experience swelling or discoloration of the skin on the area where it has been administered are expected to stop the medication and seek medical advice.

Allergies and the need for caution

Most individuals tend to disregard allergies as trivial in nature. However, it is important to note that allergies can quickly manifest to serious proportions and could sometimes, though rarely, be life-threatening in nature. It is necessary to identify allergies on time and seek suitable remedial and mitigating measures to control the allergy, before it turns serious. Individuals are known to be allergic to Ibuprofen or medications that contain Ibuprofen. Commonly reported symptoms include discoloration of the skin, and possible onset of rashes or blisters on the skin. Individuals are also likely to end up with hives as an allergic reaction to the medication.

Other commonly reported symptoms of allergies include swelling on the face. Individuals experiencing wheezing or facing difficulties in breathing are also advised to exercise caution as this is an indication of possible allergic reaction. On observing or noticing any of the above symptoms, the patient r caregiver is expected to discontinue the medication and seek medical intervention. The most severe conditions require emergency medical attention; for instance, anaphylactic shock is considered as an extremely serious allergic reaction and requires triaging at a healthcare facility.


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