How Ibuprofen May Relieve Your Pain During a Gout Attack

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is commonly used to help treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

In a recent medical trial, ten patients with acute gouty arthritis were given 2,400 mg of ibuprofen daily. All patients improved quickly and completely recovered within 72 hours. The best part is that no adverse responses were noted.

Therefore, ibuprofen medication may be a useful treatment option for acute gouty arthritis. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what ibuprofen is and how it may be used to help relieve gout symptoms.

History of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen was discovered in the 1950s while researchers were looking for a medicine that could potentially treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not only that, but they were looking for a solution with fewer side effects than Aspirin.

This soon-to-be miracle pill was derived from propionic acid by the research team of the Boots company in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It was discovered by Andrew RM Dunlop, Stewart Adams, John Nicholson, Vonleigh Simmons, Jeff Wilson, and Colin Burrows.

Stewart Adams, who had tested the drug on a hangover, was granted an OBE in 1987. As gout patients, you’re probably aware that alcohol is often recognized as a high-risk factor.

The drug was eventually patented in 1961 by Andrew RM Dunlop. It was originally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in the United Kingdom in 1969, and subsequently in the United States in 1974.

Ibuprofen was first prescribed as a medication. However, it fared well after numerous trials and research, as well as a high level of tolerance in the general population. It was eventually approved in 1983 as an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine in pharmacies worldwide, including your local grocery store.

What is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a common medication used to treat fever and pain symptoms. It is known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID. An NSAID is a type of drug that has analgesic, fever-reducing, and anti-inflammatory properties in larger doses. They are available under many well-known brand names, including Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen.

Ibuprofen reduces pain, heat, edema, and inflammation by decreasing the production of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. The body produces these substances in response to disease and injury.

Ibuprofen is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines. The list specifies the bare minimum of medical requirements for a basic healthcare system.

Steroids and narcotics, also known as opioids, are other sorts of pain relievers. NSAIDs are safer than both of these, as long-term steroid usage may have serious side effects, while opioid use may lead to misuse.

When compared to other NSAIDs, its potential for major adverse effects such as stomach ulcers, heart attacks, or strokes is thought to be much lower. However, it is also believed to be less effective at reducing inflammation and pain.

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Common Uses of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is mostly used to treat fever (including post-immunization fever) and mild to moderate pain (including pain relief after surgery). It is often used to treat painful menstrual cycles and inflammatory diseases. Osteoarthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, tooth pain, headache, migraine, and rheumatoid arthritis are a few typical instances [1].

Also, while aspirin is an NSAID, it has been linked to an increased risk of gout and should be avoided.

Ibuprofen is very effective in treating your pain from a gout attack. It may reduce your gout pain but does nothing to reduce uric acid or reduce the crystals in your joints. It may help increase your mobility rather quickly and by being more mobile, it may also help you heal from your gout attack much quicker.

Mild exercise helps any type of arthritis, including gout, heal faster and less painfully. I’ve used ibuprofen numerous times to take the edge off my hurting toe. That’s why I believe all gout sufferers should keep some ibuprofen in their medicine cabinet at all times. After all, if it’s good enough for the WHO, it’s good enough for me!

This is crucial if you don’t have access to colchicine or have been prescribed NSAIDs because it is an OTC drug. Ibuprofen should be safe to use as long as you don’t have a renal disease but consult your doctor first.

The Onset of a Gout Flare-up

Gout is a frequent and complex kind of arthritis that may affect anyone at any age. It is distinguished by abrupt, acute episodes of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joints, most commonly the big toe.

Gout attacks may occur suddenly, leading you to wake up in the middle of the night feeling as if your big toe is on fire. Because the injured joint is heated, swollen, and sensitive, even the weight of the bedsheet may feel intolerable.

Here are some of the typical symptoms you may expect when a gout flare-up is about to happen:

  • Severe Joint Pain: Gout typically affects the big toe; however, it may affect any joint. Ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers are all often afflicted joints. The pain is most likely to be severe in the first four to twelve hours after it begins.
  • Persistent discomfort: Some joint pain may persist for several days to several weeks after the most severe pain has passed. Later episodes are more likely to be severe and to affect a greater number of joints.
  • Redness and inflammation: The affected joint or joints swell, become tender, heated, and red.
  • A significantly reduced range of motion: You may be unable to move your joints normally as your gout advances.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Call your doctor if you get sudden, severe pain in a joint. Untreated gout may lead to increased discomfort and joint damage. Seek medical attention right away if you have a fever and a hot and swollen joint, which could indicate an infection.

What Causes Gout?

The body’s response to infection-related stress is inflammation. Inflammation may also occur when your body attacks its own cells by mistake, as in autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and, of course, gout. Mild inflammation may also be caused by an injury, such as a strain or sprain.

This is pretty much the same thing that happens with a gout attack.

Gout is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals in your joint, which causes inflammation and agonizing pain. Urate crystals may form in the presence of elevated uric acid levels in the blood. Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, which are naturally occurring compounds in your body.

Purines are also found in many foods, including red meat and organ meats such as liver. Purine-rich seafood includes anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna. Uric acid levels are raised by alcoholic beverages, notably beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).

Uric acid typically dissolves in your blood and passes via your kidneys into your urine. However, your body may produce too much uric acid or your kidneys may produce insufficient amounts.

When this happens, uric acid builds up, producing sharp, needlelike urate crystals to form in the joint or surrounding tissue, causing pain, inflammation, and swelling.

In effect, the body’s immune system interprets this uric acid and crystal buildup to be an infection. Therefore, it launches a violent reaction to fight the infection.

Once a gout episode begins, it normally improves with time – even without therapy – over a few days or weeks. Doctors believe that this occurs when immune system cells avoid reacting to uric acid crystals, resulting in less inflammation.

Long-Term Damage From Gout Attacks

Most patients require medical attention to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by attacks. People who only have a few attacks per few years, for example, may just need treatment to deal with them.

People who have more frequent attacks may need to take medication on a regular basis to reduce the amount of uric acid (urate) in their blood and prevent further attacks or joint injury.

The sooner patients recognize the onset of an attack and take their medication, the better it works for them. People we spoke with said it was helpful to keep a supply of medication prescribed by their doctor at home so they could take it as soon as they observed the first signs of an attack.

Gout is responsible for more than just discomfort. If left untreated, gout, particularly chronic gout, may lead to major health concerns over time. These include tophi, joint damage and deformity, kidney stones, and even psychological problems.

How Soon Does Ibuprofen Start to Alleviate Pain?

Ibuprofen often takes about 30 minutes to start doing its magic. This period of time, however, might change from person to person and for various causes.

You’ll often start to notice a decrease in pain or fever when ibuprofen starts to take effect. Ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory effects typically take longer, sometimes up to a week.

Ibuprofen levels in your system are expected to reach their peak after 1 to 2 hours. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is swiftly eliminated from your system. This is one of the reasons you may need to take a dose every few hours, depending on the disease being treated.

How to Take Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen can be taken orally as tablets or as a liquid. There is also a gel or cream that you can rub into the affected joint to provide relief. If you take tablets, don’t take them more than four times a day.

A tablet typically contains 200 to 400 mg, with a maximum daily dose of 1200 mg. A greater dose should only be used with your doctor’s approval. Never take more than the recommended dose and wait at least 4 hours between tablets.

If you have side effects, the best course of action is to consult with your doctor. Most problems tend to be related to stomach issues.

Who Should Not Use Ibuprofen?

While ibuprofen is usually considered safe, it may not be suitable for everyone. You should avoid using ibuprofen if you:

  • are preparing to undergo or have recently undergone a surgical procedure
  • having previously experienced an adverse response to ibuprofen, aspirin, or another form of NSAID
  • are expecting a child
  • have a peptic ulcer or have previously had one

Ibuprofen has been linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, and stroke. It may also interact with other medications you are already taking. As a result, it’s critical to consult with your doctor before using ibuprofen.

In some pregnant women with a gout flare, anti-inflammatory doses of an NSAID (e.g., naproxen, ibuprofen, or indomethacin) have proved beneficial. However, because of concerns regarding NSAID-induced premature closure of the ductus arteriosus later in pregnancy, NSAID use is restricted to the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

Doctors advise patients to eat something before taking ibuprofen. There is, however, some debate on that topic which we will explore below. Also, using it topically, such as in a cream or gel, reduces the likelihood of stomach upset.

Taking Ibuprofen on an Empty Stomach

Individual and specific risk variables truly determine whether ibuprofen may be used on an empty stomach. Overall, ibuprofen has a low risk of serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse effects. However, risks do exist and vary according to a person’s age, duration of use, dosage, and any pre-existing health conditions.

Ibuprofen may cause gastrointestinal side effects by lowering prostaglandin levels. One of the functions of prostaglandin is stomach protection. It reduces stomach acid production while increasing mucus formation.

While taking any sort of ibuprofen, you may eat and drink normally. To avoid stomach discomfort, take ibuprofen pills, capsules, granules, or liquid with a meal. This is why doctors say that ibuprofen should not be taken on an empty stomach.

When ibuprofen is taken in high quantities or for an extended period of time, it produces less prostaglandin. This could cause problems because it raises stomach acid and irritates the stomach walls.

GI side effects may be caused by a variety of reasons, including:

  • Duration of usage: In comparison to short-term use for emergency needs, using ibuprofen for an extended period of time increases the risk of GI disorders.
  • Dosage: Taking greater doses for extended periods of time raises the chance of GI issues.
  • Other Medical Conditions: Certain medical disorders may increase the likelihood of side effects or unpleasant reactions. Common conditions include a GI complaint history, ulcers that bleed, and persistent inflammatory bowel illness.
  • Individual Issues: Ibuprofen use increases the risk of GI and other side effects in the elderly.

Before taking this drug, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of ibuprofen. If you have a heart condition, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or any other chronic medical condition, see your doctor before using ibuprofen.

Steroids vs NSAIDs

As previously stated, ibuprofen is widely used by people all over the world to treat pain and inflammation. Even while these medications are frequently available over the counter, they nevertheless include a number of hazards, some of which are very serious.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that are commonly used to treat pain, reduce inflammation, and lower a fever. They accomplish this by preventing your body from producing the chemical that causes pain and inflammation. It’s important to keep in mind that NSAIDs do not include steroids.

Steroids, commonly known as corticosteroids, are anti-inflammatory medications that are used to treat a variety of illnesses. They are not the same as anabolic steroids, which are frequently used illegally by some people to build muscle mass. They are more effective at reducing inflammation, but they also have a slew of more dangerous side effects.

As a result, they must be prescribed and regularly monitored by a doctor. They are synthetic hormones used to reduce inflammation in chronic conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colitis, and systemic arthritis.

Can You Overdose on Ibuprofen?

Accidental ibuprofen poisoning affects both adults and children at an alarming rate: the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) handled more than 2.7 million poison cases in the United States alone in 2016.

If you’re like most Americans, you probably have ibuprofen in your medication cabinet. Well-known ibuprofen brand names include Motrin, Midol, and Advil.

There are also additional generic counterparts and children’s liquid solutions with lesser dosages available. Not only that but ibuprofen is also present in many cold, cough, and allergy treatments.

Ibuprofen, like any other drug, may be harmful to your health if taken in greater than prescribed doses. Ibuprofen abuse may badly harm your digestive system, disrupt your hormones, and raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Ibuprofen overdose may be fatal in some situations.

Your ibuprofen dose is determined on your age as follows:

Recommended dosage for adults

According to studies, adults should take one or two 200-milligram (mg) tablets every 4 to 6 hours. Adults should not take more than 800 mg at a time or 3,200 mg per day, as per FDA guidelines.

Adults over the age of 60 should take as little ibuprofen as possible to relieve their symptoms. The elderly are more likely to experience kidney and gastrointestinal adverse effects.

Recommended dosage for kids

You need to know the child’s weight and the ibuprofen formulation you’re using to establish the safe dosage for kids. Ibuprofen for kids is offered in several dosage forms, including chewable pills, liquids, and infant drops.

Milliliters are used to measure liquids (mL). Be sure to properly measure and read the label. Generally speaking, medical professionals advise not feeding your child more than four doses in a single day.

Recommended dosage for infants

Ibuprofen should not be given to children under the age of six months. The safe dose of the infant formulation for infants aged 6 months to 1 year is determined by their weight. Before using this drug, please see your doctor.

Ibuprofen Poisoning Prevention

Prevention, according to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), is your best defense against accidental ibuprofen misuse. Always read the front and back labels of ibuprofen before taking it. Look for the following:

  • The drug’s form—liquid, pill, gummy, suppository, or spray.
  • The drug’s name (brand or generic) to ensure that ibuprofen is the active ingredient in the medication you or a loved one is taking.
  • Dosage information from the label’s “Drug Facts” section.
  • Whether or not the medication is flavored – Children’s prescriptions are sometimes sweetened to make them more appealing, but this may be problematic if children confuse flavored chewable tablets or candies for sweets.
  • When the container is full, how much space it has.
  • What the pill does not contain—according to the NCPC, children should never be given any medication that contains alcohol or aspirin.
  • What age group is the drug meant for?

Knowing these ibuprofen product details will help you understand how to use it safely, when not to use it, and how much medication has already been consumed. After reading the label, take the smallest dose that will ease your symptoms and only take ibuprofen for as long as necessary.

​​Ibuprofen Overdose Symptoms

Common and expected ibuprofen side effects include stomach pain, indigestion, and cramping. According to the NCPC, these modest side effects usually subside within a short length of time. Take these medications with a small snack or a glass of milk to alleviate these symptoms.

Recognizing an overdose in yourself or a loved one is critical. Although ibuprofen is a generally safe drug when taken correctly, ingesting high amounts of it may harm the body.

Don’t Let Gout Control Your Life

When you have gout inflammation and pain, it is difficult to concentrate on work or other daily activities. Symptoms might continue a few days or even weeks, with the most severe pain usually happening within the first day or two.

If ibuprofen does not relieve your pain, your doctor may suggest other therapies for the affected joint. Keep in mind that medicine is only one strategy of preventing gout attacks. Changing your lifestyle patterns may provide further protection.

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