Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. When taken in recommended doses, ibuprofen is generally safe and effective. However, like all medications, ibuprofen can have harmful side effects if taken in excess or over a prolonged period of time.
One of the potential risks associated with ibuprofen use is stomach and intestinal damage. Ibuprofen works by blocking the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which is responsible for producing prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that play a role in inflammation, pain, and fever. By blocking COX, ibuprofen reduces inflammation and pain.
However, prostaglandins also play a protective role in the stomach and intestines. They stimulate the production of mucus, which coats and protects the lining of the stomach and intestines from the acid and digestive enzymes produced during digestion. They also promote blood flow to the stomach and intestines, which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.
When ibuprofen blocks the production of prostaglandins, it can lead to a reduction in mucus production and blood flow to the stomach and intestines. This can increase the risk of stomach ulcers, bleeding, and perforation (a hole in the wall of the stomach or intestines).
In addition to stomach and intestinal damage, ibuprofen can also affect the kidneys, liver, and cardiovascular system if taken in excess or over a prolonged period of time. These effects can be serious and even life-threatening in some cases.
It is important to always follow the recommended dosage and duration of ibuprofen use, and to talk to a healthcare professional before taking ibuprofen if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.