Stop Taking Ibuprofen If This Happens To Your Poop

Certain medications can affect the texture, consistency, color, or ease of our bowel movements. Antibiotics may prompt an unpleasant case of diarrhea, for example, while iron supplements or antihistamines can leave us feeling backed up and constipated, according to a 2019 scientific review. Gastrointestinal side effects can occur in relation to prescription medications as well as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including popular pain-relief medicines like ibuprofen.

As a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen can be used to treat various inflammatory conditions, such as menstrual cramps, mild pain, and fever (via StatPearls). There are many options when it comes to taking ibuprofen, including oral tablets, capsules, chewables, suspensions, and more. Stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, or difficulty passing stool tend to be some of the more common gastrointestinal side effects experienced, and you'll want to contact your physician promptly should you develop any of these adverse reactions (via This is especially important if you notice blood in your poop, in which case you should discontinue use of the medication, according to a drug warning issued by MedlinePlus.

Ibuprofen poses a risk for gastrointestinal bleeding

When taking ibuprofen, the presence of bloody stool in the toilet could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding, explains MedlinePlus. This side effect is more often seen in connection with taking greater amounts of ibuprofen, such as for treatment of chronic arthritis pain. This was demonstrated in a small 2005 study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (via Science Daily) in which volunteers took 800 milligrams of ibuprofen three times a day for 28 days.

Compared to participants who received a placebo, those in the ibuprofen group experienced more than three times the amount of blood loss, ranging from ⅕ cup to 1 cup of blood lost. Furthermore, it didn't take long for bleeding to occur, as blood loss was detected as soon as three days after starting the medication. Blood loss was determined by analyzing the patients' stools. Although ibuprofen is said to have the lowest incidence rates of gastrointestinal bleeding, the researchers noted the need for greater awareness of the potentially life-threatening bleeding that can occur with taking high doses of NSAIDs on a long-term basis.

What is the maximum daily dose for ibuprofen?

Granted, the amount of ibuprofen taken for the study far exceeded the maximum daily dose for OTC use, which stands at no more than 1,200 milligrams daily (via GoodRx Health). For those prescribed ibuprofen, this limit may increase to anywhere between 1,200 milligrams and 3,200 milligrams daily. Even if a person stays below the maximum daily dose, however, they can still be at risk for blood loss or anemia, among other side effects (via Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology). This risk may be further compounded in people with certain gastrointestinal diseases or depending on what other drugs they may be taking, particularly if their medication regimen includes other NSAIDs.

In addition to being on the lookout for blood in one's stool, MedlinePlus cautions that other symptoms warranting immediate discontinuation of ibuprofen and a call to your healthcare provider include heartburn, blood in one's vomit, vomit that resembles coffee grinds, or poop that is of a tarry consistency and black in color. If that last one sounded a bit alarming, note that not all cases of black stool may be life-threatening.