Here's What Ibuprofen Can And Can't Do For You

If you've got a headache, period pains, or some other sort of everyday ache, you might be tempted to reach for the ibuprofen. For almost 50 years, we've been using it to treat general aches and pains, usually swallowing a tablet or capsule — in 2018, it was the most commonly prescribed medication in the country, with over 24 million prescriptions (via ClinCalc), while it can be bought over-the-counter too. 

However, before you take ibuprofen, it's worth taking a second to think about whether it'll actually be of any benefit. We can think of painkillers like ibuprofen as a sort of fix-all solution for minor aches and pains, but it's more effective in dealing with some things than others. While it might be good for a migraine, what if you have pregnancy pain — should you avoid it? Here's what ibuprofen can and can't do for you — you might be surprised by some of the ailments it doesn't work for. And curiously, you shouldn't take it alongside fish oil supplements, either. 

Ibuprofen can sometimes do more harm than good

First things first, what can ibuprofen help with? MedicalNewsToday lists a number of uses, some of which you could probably guess without too much difficulty. For fever, cold, headaches, toothache, period pains, and inflammation, ibuprofen can help. Likewise, it can be effective in dealing with sprains, arthritis, and back pain too. 

If you're pregnant, ibuprofen should be a no-go. Even if your pregnancy is causing you pain, medication like ibuprofen can harm the fetus, and even impact the future fertility of female fetuses. Meanwhile, if you're in labor, ibuprofen can cause prolonged bleeding, so again it's best to give it a miss (via The Healthy). Likewise, ibuprofen won't do anything for your heart — while aspirin can help prevent heart attack at low dosage, ibuprofen can actually increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Ibuprofen also won't work for gastrointestinal issues like inflammatory bowel disease, as it can irritate the lining of your digestive system as well as reduce blood flow. It's also thought to be ineffective in treating urinary tract infections, and isn't great for asthmatic people to take either (via The Healthy) — you're better off looking for an alternative; you can consult your physician if you're unsure.