September 7, 2021

Is it Safe to Take Ibuprofen Every Day?

Don’t be so quick to pop that over-the-counter painkiller

A close up image of a person holding two, oval-shaped white pills

You’ve got a headache, so you take ibuprofen. Your muscles are sore from a workout, so you take ibuprofen. Your menstrual cramps are bad this week, so you take ibuprofen.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But is it really safe to be taking so much ibuprofen?

In short, no. “People don’t think of over-the-counter medicine as being medicine at all,” says internist Janet Morgan, MD, “but it absolutely is medicine, and like anything else, it’s potentially very dangerous.”

Dr. Morgan talks about the risks and how to take ibuprofen correctly, sparingly and responsibly.

The risks of improper ibuprofen use and overuse

One study estimates that NSAIDs — non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat pain and inflammation — are responsible for 107,000 hospitalizations and 15,600 deaths a year in the U.S.

Possible side effects of ibuprofen use

When used incorrectly, especially chronically, negative effects can include:

Ibuprofen can interact with medications

You’re more prone to negative effects if you’re taking other medications that ibuprofen doesn’t mix well with.


“Ibuprofen can interact with the meds you’re on, especially high blood pressure medications, which can lead to some serious adverse effects,” Dr. Morgan says. “That could be deadly.”

Ibuprofen can interact negatively with:

  • Blood thinners.
  • Heart medication, such as clopidogrel.
  • Immunosuppressive medication, such as cyclosporine.
  • Seizure medication, such as phenytoin.
  • Other NSAIDs.

Ibuprofen can impact certain conditions

You should also check with your doctor before taking ibuprofen if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn.
  • Heart problems.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Pregnancy.

How much ibuprofen is safe?

How much ibuprofen you can take depends on, well, you. “There’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer,” Dr. Morgan says. “It depends on your general state of health.”


As a general rule, though, Dr. Morgan says most healthy people — those who don’t have high blood pressure or gastrointestinal issues — can typically take ibuprofen on a limited basis to address minor aches and pains.

“It’s not without risk, but you can feel pretty safe taking it for about three days,” she says. “Take no more than 400 to 600 milligrams, three times a day, with food. Otherwise, it can ruin your stomach.”

And just because you can get ibuprofen over the counter doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be treated like medication. As with any drug, you should ask your doctor how much ibuprofen, if any, is safe for you, based on your specific health issues and concerns.

How to take ibuprofen responsibly

Dr. Morgan lays out a few important, commonsense guidelines to keep in mind before heading to the medicine cabinet and diving into that bottle of ibuprofen.

  1. Talk to a doctor. “Sometimes, taking ibuprofen when you have another health condition can actually create the perfect storm,” Dr. Morgan warns. Your doctor can advise you whether ibuprofen is safe for you and your unique medical concerns.
  2. Use only what you need. Always follow dosage instructions or specific guidelines from your doctor — and don’t pop an extra pill thinking it will give you a little bit of extra benefit.
  3. Only use it when you need it. Just say no to ibuprofen as a cure-all. “Some people use it thinking it can ward off problems, but it shouldn’t be used for prophylaxis,” Dr. Morgan says.
  4. Seek alternatives to ibuprofen. If ibuprofen has been your go-to way to tackle pain, Dr. Morgan encourages you to find alternatives, when possible. Topical NSAID creams and gels can soothe sore muscles, warm and cold packs can bring down minor swelling and holistic measures like exercise, massage and yoga can promote overall wellness.
  5. Get to the root of your pain: If you find yourself turning to ibuprofen on a regular basis to deal with chronic pain and soreness, talk to your doctor to try to identify the underlying cause. “It should never get to the point of everyday ibuprofen use,” Dr. Morgan says, “Issues like ongoing abdominal pain, chronic headaches and really serious aching of your muscles don’t just go away on their own,” Dr. Morgan says.

Related Articles

Ginger Tea health benefits
January 31, 2023
Why Ginger Offers Health Benefits

Pain relief and nausea reduction are just two of this root’s many positive attributes

close-up of hand with Psoriatic Arthritis
December 13, 2021
Psoriatic Arthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

What’s the difference between these types of inflammatory arthritis?

An older adult sitting on a couch making a fist with both hands
November 16, 2021
What Is the Spoon Theory Metaphor for Chronic Illness?

This analogy can help you explain the daily struggle of chronic pain

Individual squeezing out topical pain relief cream onto hand
September 12, 2019
Topical Pain Relief: What Is It + How Does It Work?

Relief for sore, aching muscles and painful joints

Older woman taking aspirin for pain instead of NSAID
May 28, 2019
How Safe Are NSAIDs for Someone Who Has Had a Heart Attack?

The short answer from an interventional cardiologist

Notes taped to window of possible new year's resolutions with hand in foreground holding marker.
December 1, 2023
How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Pick specific, measurable goals, but also be open to changing them if need be

person holding a thermometer with stress thought bubbles above head
December 1, 2023
Yes, There Is Such a Thing as Stress Sickness

From nausea, weight gain and eczema, stress can affect your immune system in many ways

bowl of soy-based cubes with hand
November 30, 2023
Can Soy Cause Breast Cancer?

Research consistently shows that soy-based foods do not increase cancer risk

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try