Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doctor Preferred Medicine #3- Ibuprofen

Okay, back to what drugs doctors keep in their home medicine cabinets... The first drug I mentioned was aspirin, then diphenhydramine (benadryl), and today-ibuprofen. I have to confess that this is without a doubt the most used medication in our house. Now, I do not believe in medicating every ache or even temperature, but when one of us is in pain or has a high fever, ibuprofen is our drug of choice.
When the kids were little, we kept liquid ibuprofen around (for fevers and teething primarily) but now happily, everyone in our family can swallow pills, so we have a bottle of caplets.

Ibuprofen has many trade names- Advil and Motrin being the most popular, I believe. They offer capsules, gel caps, tablets and liquids. Generic ibuprofen typically works just as well, though some people prefer name brands for taste or texture. (We buy generic.) Ibuprofen is a Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drug, NSAID for short. This class of drug works well for muscle aches, joint pains, tooth pain, post-operative pain, menstrual cramps, headaches and fevers. For chronic problems such as arthritis, longer acting preparations may be more appropriate.

Many people pop NSAIDs like candy- not a good idea! Yes, we often prescribe ibuprofen at higher doses than the OTC label recommends, but that is for acute, short-lived problems. Taking NSAIDS at high doses can be a danger to your kidneys, and do NOT use these daily for extended periods without consulting your physician. Also, be aware that NSAIDS can cause fluid retention, which may raise your blood pressure, and they can irritate the stomach lining (leading to ulcers.) Wow- that sounds like a commercial, but those are real precautions.

BOTTOM LINE: Keep a bottle of ibuprofen in your medicine cabinet for muscle aches, joint pains, fevers, headaches, etc.- this is a "go-to" drug for many minor maladies, but must be used with caution.

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