Ibuprofen Overdose: Effects and Treatment

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID that is typically used to relieve fevers, headaches, arthritis, toothaches, menstrual cramps, back pain, muscle aches, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Like any NSAID, ibuprofen can have negative side effects such as fluid retention, hypertension, headache, heartburn, rash, bleeding, constipation, gastrointestinal ulceration, nausea and diarrhea. These side effects are more common and can be more severe if this medication is not taken properly.

Effects of Taking Too Much Ibuprofen

Any time you use medications you should take care to follow the recommended dosage. Taking more than this recommended dosage may lead to overdosing which can put you in a severe health risk. Overdoses can happen accidentally when someone does not read the instructions on a medication or intentionally when someone chooses to take more than the recommended dose of a medication. Taking excessively larges of ibuprofen can cause damage to the internal organs, particularly the kidneys, stomach and liver. Overdoses may also cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting blood
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slow breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Agitation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Incoherence

Ibuprofen is not designed to be used for long periods of time. This may lead to heart problems and increase your risk of stroke or heart attack. Those that have a history of bleeding disorders, stomach ulcers, liver or kidney disease and asthma should talk with their physician before using ibuprofen to avoid potentially negative side effects. There have not been sufficient studies to determine whether or not ibuprofen is safe to use during pregnancy so it is important to talk to your doctor about this potential risk.

Treatments for Taking Too Much Ibuprofen

An overdose of ibuprofen should be treated as a medical emergency and you should seek emergency medical care as soon as you begin to note the symptoms of an overdose. If you believe that you have taken more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen you should contact your physician for a consolation as soon as possible. If you are given medical treatment quickly you can expect to recover from an ibuprofen overdose, but it should be noted that you are at risk for serious or life threatening medical conditions.

When being treated for an overdose your doctor will evaluate your condition and prescribe an appropriate course of action. In many cases the patient will be prescribed charcoal to help absorb the ibuprofen to prevent it from entering the digestive tract. Liquid carbon is prescribed for a similar application. If the overdose appears to be life threatening your doctor may prescribe gastric lavage, though this is not a popular choice for an ibuprofen overdose.

Because it can cause life threatening complications when taken improperly you should take ibuprofen under the supervision of your health care provider, particularly if you will be using this medication for long-term treatment. You should monitor your condition carefully when on a long-term ibuprofen regimen and report any side affects you experience to your physician immediately. You should not increase your ibuprofen doses without talking to your physician first. Do not take any additional medications while using ibuprofen unless given permission by your doctor as ibuprofen reacts negatively with many other prescription and over the counter drugs.

Ibuprofen Dosage

Medical Condition

For Adults

For Children


200-400mg per dose

Consult your doctor

Rheumatoid Arthritis

400-800mg every 6-8 hours. This can be increased to 3200mg daily depending on the patient response.

30-50mg/kg divided into 3-4 doses daily. Reduce this to 20mg/kg for mild conditions


400-800mg orally in equal intervals throughout the day. Maximum doses include 3200mg daily.

Consult your doctor

Pain and Aches

Recommended doses include 200-400mg every 4-6 hours. Maximum doses include 400mg daily

Those up to the age of 11 may take 10mg/kg daily every 6-8 hours. Maximum doses include 40mg/kg.


200-400mg every 4-6 hours. Maximum doses include 400mg over 30 minutes

If the child’s temperature is below 39.2 degrees C, give 5mg/kg every 6-8 hours. For temperatures over 39.2 degrees C give 10mg/kg.