Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on March 13, 2023
Inflammation and swelling are common symptoms associated with many conditions, including injuries and chronic diseases. To alleviate these symptoms, people often turn to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. But, is Ibuprofen an NSAID?
Many are unsure of the drug classification of ibuprofen and whether or not it effectively reduces inflammation and swelling. In this article, we will explore whether ibuprofen is an NSAID and whether or not it can reduce inflammation and swelling in the body.
What is an NSAID?
NSAID stands for a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which is a type of medication that helps to reduce inflammation, pain, and fever. They work by inhibiting the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain.
NSAIDs are used to treat a variety of conditions, including headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and other types of pain and inflammation. They are available over-the-counter and by prescription.
Is Ibuprofen an NSAID?
Yes, ibuprofen is an NSAID. Therefore, it can effectively help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body when used appropriately.
Most common ibuprofen brands: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin
How Does Ibuprofen Work?
Ibuprofen, along with most other NSAIDs, works by blocking the activity of enzymes called cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2), which produce prostaglandins that cause inflammation, pain, and fever.
- COX-1 is constitutively expressed in most tissues and is involved in the production of prostaglandins that have a protective effect on the stomach lining, regulate blood flow to the kidneys, and help with blood clotting.
- COX-2 is primarily induced during inflammation and is involved in the production of prostaglandins that promote inflammation, pain, and fever.
By inhibiting COX enzymes, ibuprofen reduces the production of these inflammatory mediators, thereby reducing pain and inflammation. However, ibuprofen inhibits COX-2 more strongly, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular side effects (more on this later in the article).
Common Uses for Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is commonly used for a variety of conditions, including:
- Pain relief: Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat mild to moderate pain, including headache, toothache, menstrual cramps, and muscle aches.
- Fever reduction: Ibuprofen can help reduce fever and is often used for this purpose in both adults and children.
- Inflammation reduction: As an NSAID, ibuprofen is effective in reducing inflammation, making it a popular choice for conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis.
- Relief of menstrual symptoms: Ibuprofen can help alleviate the symptoms associated with menstruation, including cramps, bloating, and breast tenderness.
- Relief of minor injuries: Ibuprofen can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with minor injuries such as sprains, strains, and bruises.
Ibuprofen Side Effects
The side effects of Ibuprofen include:
- Stomach upset, pain, or discomfort: Ibuprofen can irritate the stomach lining, causing discomfort, pain, and other digestive problems.
- Ulcers and bleeding: Long-term use of ibuprofen can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding, which can be dangerous.
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke: Ibuprofen can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, especially in high doses due to COX-2 inhibition.
- Kidney damage: Ibuprofen can damage the kidneys, especially when taken for long periods or in high doses.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may develop an allergic reaction to ibuprofen, which can include hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
- Skin rash: Ibuprofen can cause a skin rash in some people.
- Ringing in the ears: Ibuprofen can cause ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus.
If you experience any side effects or adverse reactions, stop taking ibuprofen and seek immediate medical attention.
Safety Precautions for Ibuprofen
Here are some general safety precautions to consider when taking ibuprofen:
- Follow the recommended dosage: It is important to take ibuprofen exactly as prescribed or as directed on the label. Do not take more than the recommended dose as it can increase the risk of side effects.
- Take with food or milk: Taking ibuprofen with food or milk can help reduce stomach irritation.
- Avoid alcohol: Combining ibuprofen with alcohol can increase the risk of stomach bleeding.
- Talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen: If you have any underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart disease, or if you are taking any other medications, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen.
- Be aware of potential drug interactions: Ibuprofen can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, antidepressants, and some herbal supplements. Be sure to inform your doctor of any medications or supplements you are taking.
- Monitor for side effects: Be aware of potential side effects of ibuprofen, such as stomach pain, nausea, and dizziness, and contact your doctor if you experience any concerning symptoms.
- Avoid long-term use: Prolonged use of ibuprofen can increase the risk of side effects, so it is important to only use it as needed and for a limited time.
Ibuprofen vs Acetaminophen
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both over-the-counter pain relievers that are widely used for the management of pain and fever. However, they have different mechanisms of action and are used for different purposes.
Ibuprofen (NSAIDs) work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause pain and inflammation in the body.
Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is not an NSAID but a pain reliever and fever reducer. It works by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the brain that cause pain and fever. Acetaminophen is primarily used to relieve mild-to-moderate pain, such as headache, toothache, back pain, arthritis, and fever.
One major difference between the two drugs is that ibuprofen can also reduce inflammation, while acetaminophen cannot. Additionally, ibuprofen has been shown to have a greater risk of causing stomach irritation and gastrointestinal bleeding than acetaminophen.
OTC Alternatives to Ibuprofen
Several over-the-counter alternatives to ibuprofen can help relieve pain. You can either use acetaminophen, you can try a different type of NSAID, or you can try using natural remedies for inflammation.
Remember, acetaminophen can’t reduce inflammation, but it can provide pain relief. The most common over-the-counter acetaminophen brands include:
- Excedrin (also contains Aspirin)
Here are the other two types of NSAIDs (besides ibuprofen) and their most well-known over-the-counter brands:
- Aspirin: Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin, Ecotrin, Anacin
- Naproxen: Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox, Mediproxen
How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally
Besides taking medications, there are plenty of other ways to reduce swelling and relieve pain naturally. Here are a few of the best strategies.
- Eat fewer inflammatory foods: Try to avoid inflammatory foods such as processed foods, added sugars, refined carbs, and unhealthy fats.
- Switch to an anti-inflammatory diet: Focus on eating more anti-inflammatory foods, such as fatty fish, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fresh produce.
- Make lifestyle changes: Engage in regular physical activity, manage stress through practices such as yoga or meditation, prioritize sleep, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Take anti-inflammatory herbs: Some herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be incorporated into meals or taken as supplements.
If you want a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, but aren’t sure which supplements are best, here are three heavily researched supplements to start with.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin blocks the activity of certain enzymes and cytokines that contribute to inflammation in the body.
- Learn More: 10 Best Turmeric Curcumin Supplements for 2023
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties due to its acetic acid content. Acetic acid can help reduce inflammation by blocking the production of pro-inflammatory mediators in the body.
- Learn More: 10 Best Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies for 2023
Elderberry is a rich source of antioxidants that can help to combat inflammation in the body. The bioactive compounds in elderberry, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Learn More: 10 Best Sambucus Elderberry Gummies for 2023
Ibuprofen and NSAIDs: Final Thoughts
Is ibuprofen an anti-inflammatory? The answer is yes. Ibuprofen is an effective NSAID that has been widely used for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
While it can be an effective way to reduce inflammation and swelling, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and to use it only as directed. As with any medication, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider before use, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.