This Is What Ibuprofen Can't Do For You

Ibuprofen (commonly known as Advil) is one of those drugs that almost everybody wants in their medicine cabinet. According to ClinCalc, ibuprofen was prescribed to nearly 10 million people in 2019, making it the 29th most frequently prescribed drug that year.

Ibuprofen's popularity is not surprising, as it can help you out with a variety of problems such as fever, headache, arthritis, backache, toothache, muscle pain, menstrual pain, and aches from the common cold (per U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Ibuprofen is also relatively safe for most people who take it (per Advances in Therapy). With this in mind, it would be a surprise if ibuprofen wasn't in medicine cabinets all across the country.

That being said, while there are a lot of pains that this drug can help alleviate, it is not the optimal solution for everything. Sometimes it is just not helpful, and other times it can do more harm than good.

Ibuprofen should not be used for these purposes

If you have heard of a medication that can reduce some people's risk of cardiovascular issues when taken as directed by a doctor, that drug is aspirin, not ibuprofen. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that ibuprofen may actually increase a person's riskĀ of cardiovascular problems. The University of Minnesota notes that ibuprofen is generally not effective for uncomplicated urinary tract infections, either.

As they can increase a person's risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are also not recommended for people with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, says NYU Langone Health.

Ibuprofen should also not be used for pregnancy pain. This may be a surprise because ibuprofen is effective for period pain, but ibuprofen generally isn't safe during pregnancy. According to the FDA, using ibuprofen after five months of pregnancy can lead to complications, as well as serious health problems for the baby. Most other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can have the same effect. For this reason, the FDA recommends that pregnant women ask their doctor about low-dose aspirin (81 mg), which is one of the few NSAIDs to which their warning does not apply.