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Does ibuprofen help with nausea?

The short answer:

Ibuprofen cannot be used to treat nausea. In contrast, it is found that Ibuprofen can cause stomach irritation, therefore, it can induce nausea.

Key facts

  • Ibuprofen is a pain reliever drug that belongs to a group of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  •  Ibuprofen is prescribed to relieve pain from headaches, toothache, and menstrual cramps, and is used as an OTC medicine for muscle pain, migraine, and pain from cold or cases of flu.
  •  There is no clear evidence that Ibuprofen can help with nausea. However, it may reduce nausea as a result of pain relieving such as when it is used to relieve migraines. Nausea and vomiting associated with migraines are found to be reduced when Ibuprofen is used to treat migraines.
  •  Nausea and vomiting are among the common side effects of Ibuprofen.
  •  Ibuprofen cannot be used to treat stomach upset. Instead, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be safely used to treat stomach upset.


What is ibuprofen and its indication?

Is ibuprofen OK for nausea?

Does ibuprofen cause nausea?

What are the most common side effects of ibuprofen?

Should I take ibuprofen for stomach upset?

What is ibuprofen and its indication?

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is prescribed to treat pain and inflammation.

Ibuprofen is the generic name for different brand names such as Advil, Genpril, Midol IB, Motrin IB, IBU, Proprinal and Smart Sense Children Ibuprofen.

It is available in different dosage forms such as oral tablets, capsules, chewable tablets, and Liquid suspension.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ibuprofen for use in mild to moderate pain. It is also available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication for pain, usually mild pain.
Ibuprofen works by inhibiting the formation of hormones that are responsible for pain and inflammation.

It works by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase enzyme that is responsible for the conversion of arachidonic acids into prostaglandins that contribute to the induction of pain.

The mechanism of action of ibuprofen is illustrated in the figure below.

Mechanism of action of ibuprofen

What is ibuprofen mainly used for?

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used for the following:

  • Treatments of pain that results from different conditions such as
    • Headache
    • Dental pain
    • Arthritis
    • Menstrual cramps
    • It can be used to reduce fever and relieve pain from the flu and the common cold.

Over-the-counter (OTC) uses of ibuprofen include the following (Ref):

  • Muscle sprains or strains
  • Joint aches
  • Pain from migraine
  • Sore throat
  • Pain from a cold or cases of flu

Is ibuprofen OK for nausea?

In fact, Ibuprofen is a pain killer that belongs to a group of medications known as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It acts mainly to relieve pain and inflammation.

There is no evidence that Ibuprofen can be used to relieve nausea. In contrast, ibuprofen itself can cause nausea.

Ibuprofen is found to increase stomach irritation and can make you feel nauseous. Therefore, it is advised to take ibuprofen and any other NSAIDs after meals and avoid taking them on an empty stomach.

Interestingly, Ibuprofen can help with nausea indirectly. How does it occur?
Nausea and vomiting can result from different causes such as acid reflux, motion sickness, pregnancy, and food poisoning, and also can be secondary to conditions of pain such as migraine.

In what condition does ibuprofen can help with nausea?

Nausea and vomiting are very common symptoms during migraine attacks. They could affect more than 60% of patients who are suffering from migraines.

These symptoms are often more disabling than the migraine itself and can cause a great burden on the patient’s life. Therefore, migraine treatments can effectively help to stop nausea and vomiting.

Several studies have confirmed the effective role of Ibuprofen in relieving migraines and consequently can stop nausea and vomiting (Ref).

A previous study evaluated the efficacy and safety of ibuprofen, 200 mg, and 400 mg, compared with placebo for treatments of the pain of migraine and the associated symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Results showed that the patients who were treated with ibuprofen, 200 mg or 400 mg, reported mild to no pain after 2 hours after treatments, compared with those treated with placebo. In addition, migraine-associated symptoms such as nausea and vomiting were significantly reduced in the group treated with Ibuprofen compared with the placebo-treated group. The authors revealed that ibuprofen provided a beneficial effect on nausea associated with migraine

Another study also showed that Ibuprofen alone without antiemetic drugs was effective in relieving acute migraines with associated symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. The alleviation of nausea and vomiting with Ibuprofen in such conditions was attributed to the effectiveness of ibuprofen in releveling migraines.

Does ibuprofen cause nausea?

The answer is yes. Ibuprofen can lead to stomach upset and nausea.

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of Ibuprofen and many other NSAIDs. It is reported to cause stomach irritation and nausea may result.

meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials compared selective COX-2 inhibitors with ibuprofen in terms of analgesia, rescue medication consumption, and adverse effects. Results showed that there were no significant differences in terms of pain relief after 6, 8, and 12 h post-medication between selective COX-2 inhibitors and ibuprofen. However, patients who consumed ibuprofen had more nausea and vomiting than those who were treated with selective COX-2 inhibitors.

What are the most common side effects of ibuprofen?

The most common side effects associated with Ibuprofen administration are the following (Ref):

  • Allergic reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Eye irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fluid retention

Should I take ibuprofen for stomach upset?

The answer is no. You shouldn’t use Ibuprofen for treatment of stomach upset.

Ibuprofen and many other NSAIDs are found to induce stomach irritation and they can be used to treat stomach upset. Ibuprofen can worsen your condition.

In contrast, acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be safely used to treat stomach upset.