Topic Overview

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce fever and
inflammation and relieve pain. Examples of NSAIDs
include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Be sure to follow the
nonprescription medicine precautions. Always take
these medicines exactly as prescribed or according to the label.

Ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil)

  • Adults: The initial dose
    is 400 mg. Follow-up doses are 200 mg to 400 mg every 4 hours as needed, up to
    a maximum of 4 doses in a 24-hour period.
  • Children: Check with your child’s doctor if your child is less than 6 months old or less than 12 pounds. Dosages are based on the child’s
    weight. Give follow-up doses every 6 hours as needed, up to a maximum of 4
    doses in a 24-hour period.

    • Talk to your doctor before you give medicine to reduce a fever in a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby’s fever is not a sign of a serious illness. The exception is if your baby has just had an immunization. Fevers sometimes occur as a reaction to immunizations. After immunizations, you can give your baby medicine to reduce a fever.
Ibuprofen dose for your child’s weight
weight in pounds (lb)
weight in kilograms (kg)
Less than 12 lbLess than 6 kgAsk a doctor
12-17 lb7-8 kg50 mg
18-23 lb9-10 kg75 mg
24-35 lb11-16 kg100 mg
36-47 lb17-21 kg150 mg
48-59 lb22-27 kg200 mg
60-71 lb28-32 kg250 mg
72-95 lb33-43 kg300 mg
96 lb and above44 kg and aboveAdult dose

Naproxen (such as Aleve)

  • Adults: Initial dose is
    440 mg. Follow-up doses are 220 mg every 8 to 12 hours as needed. Drink a full
    glass of water with each dose. Do not take more than 440 mg in any 8-hour to 12-hour period or 660 mg in a 24-hour
  • Adults older than 65: Do not take
    more than 220 mg every 12 hours unless your doctor tells you
  • Children: Do not give naproxen to
    children younger than 12 unless your doctor tells you to. Your doctor may
    prescribe naproxen for your child.

Side effects

The most common side effects of NSAIDs are stomach upset,
heartburn, and nausea. To help prevent these side effects, take NSAIDs with
food and a glass of water.

  • NSAIDs can cause a severe allergic reaction.
    Symptoms may include
    hives, swelling of the face, wheezing, and
    shock. If you have any of these symptoms,
    call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
  • For safety, read
    the label carefully and do not take more than prescribed. Taking a larger dose
    or taking the medicine longer than recommended can increase your risk of
    dangerous side effects.
  • Do not use a nonprescription NSAID for
    longer than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

Reasons to stop taking NSAIDs

NSAIDs may delay healing. If you develop any of the following signs
of infection, stop taking the medication:

  • An increase in pain
  • Skin that is
    hot to the touch around the injury or wound
  • Redness or red streaks
    extending from the injury or wound
  • Pus that continues to form in
    the wound
  • Fever with no other cause
  • Swollen glands
    above the injury or wound

NSAID risks

  • NSAIDs have the potential to increase your risk
    of heart attack, stroke, skin reactions, and serious stomach and intestinal
    bleeding. These risks are greater if you take NSAIDs at higher doses or for
    longer periods than recommended.
  • Aspirin, unlike other NSAIDs, can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke. But taking
    aspirin isn’t right for everyone, because it can cause serious bleeding. Talk to your doctor before you start
    taking aspirin every day.

Talk to your doctor about whether NSAIDs are right for you. People
who are older than 65 or who have existing heart, stomach, kidney, liver, or
intestinal disease are at higher risk for problems. For other people, the
benefits may outweigh the risks.

Do not take NSAIDS if you have ever had an
allergic reaction to any type of pain medicine.

If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before you use NSAIDs. It is
especially important to avoid using NSAIDs during the last 3 months of
pregnancy unless your doctor tells you to. They can cause problems with the
baby or the delivery.

Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs if you have:

  • Ulcers or a history of stomach or
    intestinal bleeding.
  • Stomach pain, upset stomach, or heartburn that
    lasts or comes back.
  • Anemia.
  • Bleeding problems.
  • A
    habit of drinking more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day. This increases your risk
    of stomach bleeding.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Kidney,
    liver, or heart disease.
  • Any serious health condition.

Talk to your doctor before using NSAIDs if you take:

  • Blood thinners
  • Lithium.
  • Diuretics (water
  • Medicine for arthritis or diabetes.
  • Aspirin to
    protect your heart.
  • Any other drugs.

Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20
because of the risk of
Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017