How does ibuprofen work?
Ibuprofen helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation by stopping the body producing large amounts of natural chemicals called prostaglandins when you have an illness or injury.
Prostaglandins are released into your body when you are sick or injured, making nearby nerves more sensitive to pain. This helps your body realise something is wrong. So when you put your hand on something sharp, the nearby nerves tell your brain, which sends a message that your hand hurts.
Prostaglandins also make tissues inflamed and swollen – they are one of the reasons why you get a sore throat when you are sick and why a sprained ankle becomes swollen and painful.
Because ibuprofen blocks the production of prostaglandins throughout the body, it can be used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
What is ibuprofen used for?
At over-the-counter doses, ibuprofen is used to provide temporary relief of pain and/or inflammation associated with:
- Headache, including migraine headache and tension headache
- Muscular pain
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Period pain
- Back pain
- Dental pain
- Arthritic pain
- Sinus pain
Ibuprofen also reduces fever.
Ibuprofen vs paracetamol: types of pain relievers
Pain relievers available in your supermarket or pharmacy can be divided into two groups:
- Those that mainly act at the site of the pain
- Those that are thought to mainly act centrally – in the brain
Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAIDs work by blocking pain signals mainly at the site of pain.
Paracetamol is a different kind of pain reliever that is thought to act mainly in the central nervous system (the brain).
What’s the difference? Ibuprofen vs paracetamol
|Type of medicine||NSAID||Analgesic|
|How it works||Blocks pain signals mainly at the site of pain||Thought to work mainly centrally (via the brain) to reduce intensity of pain signals|
|Common brand names||Nurofen, Advil, Brufen, Ibugesic, I-Profen, Medix||Panadol, Ethics Paracetamol, Paracare, Pharmacare Paracetamol, Apo-Osteo, Paracetamol Osteo-Tab|
History of ibuprofen
Ibuprofen was discovered and developed in the 1950s and 1960s by the research arm of the UK-based сompany Boots, led by Dr Stewart Adams and Dr John Nicholson. Boots sold their ibuprofen product to Reckitt Benckiser in 2005.
What is an NSAID?
NSAIDs (short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation by blocking the production of pain-causing chemicals called prostaglandins.
There are many types of NSAIDs available in both supermarkets and pharmacies. Over-the-counter NSAIDs that you can select for yourself include aspirin, diclofenac, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Other NSAIDs are available with a prescription from your doctor.