What is the difference between prescription and Over-the-counter Ibuprofen?

What is the difference between prescription and Over-the-counter Ibuprofen?

The only difference between prescription and over-the-counter Ibuprofen is the maximum dosage strength you can take at one time. OTC Ibuprofen is limited to lower doses and they are usually enough to manage mild symptoms. 

Prescription Ibuprofen is usually a high dose and it’s more frequently administered. 

Over-the-counter Ibuprofen 

Usually, 200 mg of Ibuprofen is used as an OTC medication and it is generally enough to manage symptoms that don’t require medical attention. You can go as high as 400 mg with OTC Ibuprofen and it can be taken 3 times a day. 

Going higher than that is not recommended without your doctor’s approval. This is because 1200 mg of Ibuprofen (400 mg 3 times a day) is adequate enough to control your pain, fever, and inflammation. If your symptoms persist, you need to consult your healthcare provider. 

Prescription Ibuprofen 

Prescription Ibuprofen is recommended for those people who fail to see any positive change after OTC doses. A prescribed Ibuprofen can be taken at the dose of 800 mg, up to 4 times a day (1). 

The total daily dose somewhat equals 3200 mg and it is not usually recommended to go higher than that. 

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. These meds are associated with some disturbing gastrointestinal side effects when used frequently and when repeatedly taken on an empty stomach. 

This is why you need to make sure you’re taking it for the right reasons and in the right way. Unnecessarily prolonged use can lead to significant complications. If your symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare provider. 

Final words

It’s best to not exceed 400 mg of Ibuprofen when you are taking it as an OTC painkiller. If you find this dose insufficient or you think you need a stronger one, please reach out to your healthcare provider. If you could benefit from a higher dose of Ibuprofen, your doctor will prescribe it. 

If there’s another better option to help your symptoms, your doctor will prescribe that. Ibuprofen may also be combined with prescription painkillers like Tramadol if the condition demands it. However, make sure you don’t start taking any prescription painkillers without your doctor’s approval.

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US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Motrin® Ibuprofen Tablets, USP. Label. Revised 08/2007. [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 20]. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/017463s105lbl.pdf