Can You Take Ibuprofen on an Empty Stomach?

Ibuprofen is a very well-known over-the counter medication that you can purchase at pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, and online. It is primarily used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. 

With so many over-the-counter pain relievers on the market today, what makes ibuprofen different from the others? Read on to explore the unique characteristics of ibuprofen and answer the question ‘Can you take ibuprofen on an empty stomach?’. 

What is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a medication whose primary use is for pain relief and reducing fever. It is part of a class of medications referred to as NSAIDs which is an acronym for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some other common medications that are included in this class include aspirin and naproxen.

How Do NSAIDs work?

NSAIDs work by blocking chemical signals in the body that cause inflammation. There are various causes of inflammation and it is a normal body response to an injury or illness. Even though inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself, it can be uncomfortable. The five main signs and symptoms of inflammation are pain, redness, heat, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation can be external or internal and acute or chronic.  

Can You Take Ibuprofen on an Empty Stomach?

There is no concrete answer to the question of whether someone can take ibuprofen on an empty stomach. This will vary from person to person and will depend on a variety of factors. Some people cannot tolerate taking any medication on an empty stomach while others have no side effects at all. If you have had side effects from taking medication on an empty stomach before it would not be recommended to repeat. 

Common side effects of taking NSAID medications are gastrointestinal side effects such as gas, bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. To avoid these side effects it is recommended to  take NSAIDs with food, milk, or an antacid.

Other than some temporary unpleasant side effects, some people are concerned that taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach can cause more severe GI issues. According to MedlinePlus from the National Library of Medicine, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen could cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. 

Will Taking Ibuprofen Cause Stomach Issues? 

Taking an NSAID such as ibuprofen may cause stomach issues such as gas, bloating, heartburn, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestines. Although this may sound alarming, a 2009 literature review on the pharmacology and safety of ibuprofen published in the journal Inflammopharmacology suggests that over-the-counter doses of ibuprofen have only a low possibility of serious gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiovascular events. 

MedlinePlus warns that ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine can happen at any time during ibuprofen use and could happen with or without warning signs. In severe cases, these medical conditions could cause death. The risk seems to be higher for people who are on NSAIDs for a longer period of time, are older, are in poor health, and/or consume three or more alcoholic beverages while using NSAIDs.

You should advise with your healthcare provider before taking any new medications even if they are available for purchase over-the-counter. NSAID medications have risks of gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiovascular adverse events that need to be considered. If you are at a greater risk for any of these conditions your healthcare provider may not recommend using NSAID medications. 

What Happens if You Take Ibuprofen on an Empty Stomach?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone and will depend on several factors. Some people will have no effects if they take ibuprofen on an empty stomach while others could experience adverse side effects. It is recommended to take NSAID medications such as ibuprofen with food, milk, or an antacid to help prevent gastrointestinal side effects. 

What is the Best Way to Take Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is most commonly sold to adults in a tablet form. The tablet should be swallowed whole and not chewed or crushed. If you are taking a different form other than a tablet, follow the instructions provided on the label. If a medication is not labeled or does not have instructions, do not take it. 

It is recommended to take NSAID medications such as ibuprofen with food, milk, or an antacid to help prevent gastrointestinal side effects. 

Advise with your healthcare provider before taking any new medication including over-the-counter medications. Ibuprofen may be contraindicated depending on your medical conditions or other medications. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of ibuprofen use for you. It is not recommended for pregnant women who are 20 weeks or more along in pregnancy because it could harm the fetus and cause complications. 

Follow the directions given to you on the ibuprofen bottle or by your healthcare provider. It is important to not take more than recommended or be on ibuprofen for an extended period of time. 

What are the Most Common Side Effects of Ibuprofen?

The most common side effects from taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are gastrointestinal such as gas, bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. 

It is recommended to take NSAIDs with food, milk, or an antacid can help prevent gastrointestinal side effects. If these gastrointestinal symptoms continue even with milk, food, or an antacid, you should call your healthcare provider because the medication may need to be changed or discontinued. 

When to See a Doctor?

If any medication is causing you side effects you should notify your healthcare provider. If you are taking ibuprofen and it is causing gastrointestinal symptoms or any other side effects you should see your healthcare provider. 

The medication may need to be adjusted or discontinued. You should advise with your healthcare provider before taking any new medications even if they are available for purchase over-the-counter.

Get Help From an Online Doctor

Technology has now allowed patients to connect with healthcare providers quicker than ever before. At DrHouse you can connect with a board-certified online clinician in as little as 15 minutes. You can even schedule an in-person visit with one of their doctors. This is convenient when it comes to getting medical treatment faster. 

It will take some primary doctor’s office days to get you in for an appointment. With DrHouse you could see a doctor in less time than it takes you to cook a meal or take a shower. You won’t even have to leave your house. This will save you time and allow you to get quick treatment for your symptoms and medical concerns.

Key Takeaways

Ibuprofen is a very well-known over-the-counter medication that is primarily used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. It is part of a class of medications referred to as NSAIDs, that work by blocking chemical signals in the body that cause inflammation. 

There is no concrete answer to the question of whether someone can take ibuprofen on an empty stomach. This will vary from person to person and will depend on a variety of factors. Some people cannot tolerate taking any medication on an empty stomach while others have no side effects at all. 

If you have had side effects from taking medication on an empty stomach before it would not be recommended to repeat. It is recommended to take NSAIDs with food, milk, or an antacid to help prevent gastrointestinal side effects. 

Sources:

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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