Ibuprofen for Fever or Pain


Your child needs to take the medicine called ibuprofen (say: eye-byoo-PROE-fen). This information sheet explains what ibuprofen does, how to give it, and what side effects or problems your child may have when he or she takes this medicine.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a drug used to treat fever and/or pain. It belongs to the group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)​. Ibuprofen blocks the production and release of chemicals in the body that cause pain and inflammation. It also can reduce fever by adjusting the body’s thermostat in the brain.

You may hear ibuprofen called by its brand names, Advil® or Motrin®. Ibuprofen comes as a tablet that may be swallowed, a chewable tablet, and a liquid.

Before giving ibuprofen to your child…

Tell your doctor if your child has an allergy to ibuprofen or any other NSAIDs, including ASA (Aspirin).

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if your child has any of the following conditions. Precautions may need to be taken with this medicine if your child has:

  • asthma
  • kidney or liver problems
  • stomach ulcers or inflammatory disease
  • bleeding or blood clotting problems
  • heart failure or high blood pressure

How should you give your child ibuprofen?

Follow these instructions when giving your child ibuprofen:

  • Give this medicine with food to prevent upset stomach.
  • Chewable tablets may be crushed and mixed with food or chewed. These should not be swallowed whole. 
  • A liquid (drops, suspension) is available if your child cannot swallow pills. Shake suspension well before use.
  • Children who have feeding tubes can also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after medicine is given.
  • Measure liquid doses carefully. Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. If none is available, get an oral syringe, a medicine dropper, a medicine spoon, or a medicine cup (only for older children) from your pharmacist.

What should you do if your child misses a dose of ibuprofen?

  • Give the missed dose as soon as you remember.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Give the next dose at the regular time. Wait at least 6 hours between doses.
  • Do not give your child two doses to make up for one missed dose.

How long does ibuprofen take to work?

Your child may start feeling better soon after starting this medicine for fever or pain.

What are the possible side effects of ibuprofen?

Your child may have some of these side effects while he or she takes ibuprofen. Check with your child's doctor if your child continues to have any of these side effects and they do not go away or they bother your child:

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if your child has unusual bleeding or bruising.

Most of the following side effects are not common, but they may be a sign of a serious problem. Call your child's doctor right away or take your child to the Emergency Department if your child has any of these side effects:

  • black, tarry, or bloody stools (bowel movements)
  • skin rash or any other sign of allergic reaction
  • blood in the urine
  • wheezing or trouble breathing

What safety measures should you take when your child is using ibuprofen?

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if your child is allergic to tartrazine (yellow dye) or has phenylketonuria (PKU), as this medicine may contain tartrazine or phenylalanine.

There are some medicines that should not be taken together with ibuprofen or in some cases the dose of ibuprofen or the other medicine may need to be adjusted. It is important that you tell your doctor and pharmacist if your child takes any other medications (prescription, over the counter, herbal, or natural products) including anticoagulants (like warfarin), cyclosporine and tacrolimus, methotrexate​, diuretics (water tablets), or other heart medicines.

What other important information should you know about ibuprofen?

Keep a list of all medications your child is on and show the list to the doctor or pharmacist.

Do not share your child’s medicine with others. Do not give anyone else’s medicine to your child.

Make sure you always have enough ibuprofen to last through weekends, holidays, and vacations. Call your pharmacy at least 2 days before your child runs out of medicine to order refills.

Keep ibuprofen at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Do not store it in the bathroom or kitchen.

Do not keep any medicines that are out of date. Check with your pharmacist about the best way to throw away outdated or leftover medicines.

Keep ibuprofen out of your child’s sight and reach and locked up in a safe place. If your child takes too much ibuprofen, call the Ontario Poison Centre at one of these numbers. These calls are free.

  • Call 416-813-5900 if you live in Toronto.
  • Call 1-800-268-9017 if you live somewhere else in Ontario.
  • If you live outside of Ontario, call your local poison information centre.

Disclaimer: The information in this Family Med-aid is accurate at the time of printing. It provides a summary of information about ibuprofen and does not contain all possible information about this medicine. Not all side effects are listed. If you have any questions or want more information about ibuprofen, speak to your healthcare provider.

Lori Chen, BScPhm, RPh, ACPR
Jennifer Drynan-Arsenault, BSc, RPh, ACPR