Millions of people across the world rely on Ibuprofen and similar pain relieving medications everyday. These drugs are used to deal with a sore back, an aching knee, or even after a rough night on the town. Ibuprofen falls under the family of non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) that work by blocking the hormones known as prostaglandins. Blocking the prostaglandins makes the NSAID effective at treating inflammation but it also has the potentially adverse effect of removing a protective barrier in the stomach lining. This lining requires the presence of prostaglandins to be effective and without it the person becomes susceptible to gastrointestinal problems, gastric bleeding, and ulcers. Recent news reports claim that these complications are responsible for the deaths of 2,500 people annually in the United Kingdom alone.
Other complications from Ibuprofen use include increasing the stress to the kidneys and may causing fluid retention. Fluid retention has negative consequences for people with high blood pressure and those at risk for cardiovascular incidents/stroke. Yet another source of complication can arise from the blocking of prostaglandins for females who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. The hormone is needed for ovulation and to help the egg get implanted in the womb. Complications during labor and delivery have also been attributed to decreased presence of prostaglandins.
Not Necessarily the Death of Ibuprofen
While the aforementioned concerns are backed by hard science, it does signify the end of Ibuprofen or NSAID use. As with any medication, extended daily use may result in unwanted side effects. On the other hand, the occasional ache or fever may still respond safely and well to an NSAID. Many European doctors combine an Ibuprofen prescription with a medicine that protects the lining of the stomach. People with high risk for complications (ie existing heart problems, kidney failure, gastric distress) and those trying to conceive/currently pregnant may want to seek alternate forms of pain/inflammation relief. An informed patient can make wise choices and perhaps that is the best thing that can be taken from the latest information on Ibuprofen and NSAIDS. There is a potential risk, and yet the medication also has the potential to be beneficial with no complications. As always, do some homework, make educated choices, and involve your physician in your decision.