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Some people, including pregnant women, should not use ibuprofen. Others, including older people, should use it with caution.
If you have any queries about using ibuprofen, or any other medicines, speak to your GP or pharmacist, or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
Do not use
Do not take ibuprofen if you have:
- a history of hypersensitivity (a strong, unpleasant reaction) to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- a peptic ulcer (an open sore that develops on the inside lining of the stomach or small intestine) or you have had one in the past
- severe heart failure (when your heart is not pumping blood around your body very efficiently)
- severe liver disease
Use with caution
Use ibuprofen with caution if you are 65 or over, or if you are breastfeeding (see below).
You should also use ibuprofen with caution if you have:
- asthma, when the airways of the lungs are inflamed
- kidney problems
- liver problems
- a connective tissue disorder such as lupus, an autoimmune condition that affects many parts of the body
- Crohn’s disease, which is inflammation of the lining of the digestive system
- ulcerative colitis, a long-term condition that affects the colon (large intestine)
- previously had any bleeding in your stomach
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- peripheral arterial disease (narrowing of the arteries)
- any problems with your heart, such as angina (symptoms caused by a restricted blood supply to the heart), heart attacks (when the blood supply to your heart is blocked) or mild or moderate heart failure
- cerebrovascular disease (problems with the blood supply in the brain) such as a stroke, when the blood supply to the brain is restricted or interrupted
Ibuprofen and older people
Ibuprofen should also be used with caution in people who are 65 or over, because they are at increased risk of developing more serious side effects.
For example, bleeding is more common among older people and is more likely to have a serious outcome. See Ibuprofen - side effects for more information.
Older people are also more likely to have a heart or kidney problem, which ibuprofen can make worse.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist for further guidance on whether ibuprofen is safe for you.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Do not take ibuprofen if you are pregnant. Instead, you can take paracetamol to help ease short-term pain or reduce a high temperature (fever).
If absolutely necessary, you can take ibuprofen during the second trimester of your pregnancy (weeks 14 to 26). However, avoid taking ibuprofen during the first trimester (up to week 13) and third trimester (from week 27 until the birth) unless it is recommended by your doctor.
Ibuprofen can be used with caution while breastfeeding. Check the patient information leaflet for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ibuprofen may be present in breast milk, although the amount should be too small to be harmful. It is recommended that you take paracetamol instead of ibuprofen, if possible.
This is when your immune system (the body’s natural defence system) produces antibodies (proteins) that should fight infections but instead attack your body's healthy tissues.
Inflammation is the body's response to infection, irritation or injury, which causes redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a feeling of heat in the affected area.
The intestines are the part of the digestive system between the stomach and the anus that digests and absorbs food and liquid.
The sac-like organ of the digestive system that helps digest food by churning it and mixing it with acids to break it down into smaller pieces.