Ibuprofen Dosage

By , BSc

Ibuprofen is a pain relieving medication that can be ordered over the counter, without a prescription being needed. This drug is used to ease pain, to control fever and to relieve the swelling caused by injuries and the inflammation caused by rheumatic diseases or musculoskeletal disorders. In most countries, ibuprofen is available over the counter as 200 mg and 400 mg tablets. The dose dependent action of the drug is around 4 to 8 hours.

The dose appropriate for adults and children is determined based on the lowest effective known dose for those age groups and the drug should be used for the shortest duration possible.


The recommended daily dose of ibuprofen in adults is 1200 to 1800 mg per day in divided doses. Usually a dose of 600 to 1200 mg per day is sufficient and the total daily dose should not usually exceed 2400 mg. The highest possible dose should only be taken in cases of acute and severe pain and only until the acute pain has been brought under control. Once the acute pain has passed, the dose should be reduced to the usual recommended daily dose.

More specific dosage details are given below.

  • The adult dose for period pain is 200 to 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours.
  • For osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, an initial dose of 400 to 800 mg every 6 to 8 hours is recommended, with this being increased to a maximum of 3200 mg per day depending on the patient’s response and their tolerance of the drug. Generally, patients with rheumatoid arthritis require a higher dose of ibuprofen than those with osteoarthritis do.
  • For mild to moderate pain (e.g., toothache, headache), the recommended dose is 200 to 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours, as required. For mild to moderate pain, doses higher than 400 mg have not shown to be any more effective.
  • For fever, the recommended dose is 200 to 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours, as required


For children, the daily recommended dose for ibuprofen is 20 mg per kg of body weight (mg/kg) in divided doses. In children with severe pain caused by juvenile arthritis, for example, a dose of up to 40 mg/kg in divided doses may be allowed. For children weighing less than 30 kg, the total dose per day should not exceed 500 mg per day.

More specific dosage details are given below.

  • For children with a fever, the usual recommended doses are as follows:
    • Children should be given 5 mg/kg every 6 to 8 hours, as required, when the temperature is less than 102.5 degrees.
    • When the temperature is 102.5 degrees or more, the dose should be 10 mg/kg every 6 to 8 hours, as required. The recommended maximum dose per day is 40 mg/kg.
  • For pain, the dose should be 4 to 10 mg/kg every 6 to 8 hours, as required, with a maximum dose per day of 40 mg/kg.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, 30 to 40 mg/kg per day is advised, with children started at the lower end of this dosing range. In mild cases of disease, the initial dose should be 20 mg/kg per day. Doses higher than 40 mg/kg per day are not recommended due to the risk of severe adverse side effects. Doses higher than 50 mg/kg per day have not yet been studied and should be avoided.

For elderly patients

The elderly are at an increased risk of the adverse side effects associated with ibuprofen and doses should be administered with great caution in this age group, especially among those with impaired liver or kidney function.

Other recommendations

Drinking a glass of milk when taking ibuprofen can help to prevent unpleasant side effects such as indigestion.

In cases where a modified-release form of the drug such as Brufen or Fenbid has been prescribed, the tablet should be swallowed whole and not crushed or broken because this can cause too much of the drug to be released in one go.

Sachets that contain granules of the drug should be mixed with a glass of water and the fizzy mixture swallowed immediately after mixing.

If a dose is missed, the next dose should be taken as soon as the person realises, unless the next dose was due soon, in which case the missed dose should be skipped. Taking two doses at once in order to make up for a missed dose is not recommended.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2014

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