Why Is Ibuprofen Bad For Your Liver?

Ibuprofen is one of the most popular drugs available on the market. You most likely already have one or two bottles of ibuprofen in your medication cabinet. The drug is readily available over the counter under many brand names in either tablet or capsule form. 

Ibuprofen is frequently prescribed for many conditions and is often combined with other medications. It is often the first choice for treating colds, headaches, coughs, or fevers.

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Does ibuprofen affect the liver?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, like ibuprofen rarely affects the liver. Most users have little risk of liver damage from ibuprofen medication.

Liver problems from using ibuprofen may develop in people at high risk of liver damage. For instance, if the person has cirrhosis or hepatitis C. Additionally, the risk is increased if you combine ibuprofen with medicines that are hard on the liver. 

Ibuprofen can affect liver function tests (blood tests to show if your liver is working well) when taken in high doses. Therefore, you should consult your doctor if you have liver problems or take any medications that can harm your liver. They will determine whether ibuprofen is harmful to your liver and prescribe the right medication.

What is NSAID?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are medicines that control inflammation and reduce pain. They block COX enzymes throughout the body and lower prostaglandin levels. As a result, any inflammation, fever, or pain in the body is reduced. 

NSAIDs effectively treat pain brought on by gradual tissue deterioration, such as arthritis pain. They also treat headaches, menstrual cramps, and back pain. 

NSAIDs function similarly to corticosteroids, generally known as steroids, but without many negative side effects. NSAIDs lessen the pain and inflammation that accompany most diseases and injuries. NSAIDs may cause stomach ulcers and bleeds because they reduce prostaglandins, which promote blood coagulation and protect the stomach.

Ibuprofen's side effects on liver

Gastrointestinal issues

Among the serious adverse effects of ibuprofen use, gastrointestinal problems appear to be the most prevalent. In addition to more serious, potentially long-lasting symptoms like ulcers and bleeding, these gastrointestinal problems can cause indigestion and stomach aches.


Ibuprofen has the potential to trigger allergies in certain people, just like any other type of medicine. The most frequent allergic responses to ibuprofen are facial swelling, wheezing, and skin rashes.

How can ibuprofen cause liver damage?

Ibuprofen is a safe NSAID, although, in rare instances, it can seriously harm the liver. The drug increases the aminotransferase enzyme (ALT) levels that are released when liver cells die or are damaged. The increase in ALT signifies liver damage or liver disease

Ibuprofen overuse can potentially result in toxic hepatitis. Large doses of ibuprofen have been associated with acute liver failure. It's crucial for people who use ibuprofen with other medications to adhere to the dosage recommendations. 

When taking ibuprofen, you should avoid substances that cause liver damage, like alcohol, as they will increase the risk of having liver problems.

Can you take ibuprofen if you have liver disease?

For people with liver disorders, ibuprofen use has adverse effects. The medication could worsen liver disease since it impairs the liver's ability to detoxify toxic compounds from the bloodstream. 

The time it takes for liver damage to manifest can range from days to months, so it's important to perform frequent blood tests to check for potential harm when on ibuprofen medication. 

People with cirrhosis are more likely to develop ulcer disease or have impaired renal function when using the drug. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor before using ibuprofen.

How to properly use ibuprofen

Avoid taking it in large amounts, more frequently, or longer than the prescribed period for effective and safe use of ibuprofen medication. 

Large doses of ibuprofen may cause serious side effects, especially in older adults. You can take the medication with food or milk to minimize stomach upset. The dosage of ibuprofen medication varies depending on the individual. 

Follow your doctor's prescription or the instructions on the label. The instructions on the label show the recommended doses of the medication, and you should not alter this dosage unless instructed by your doctor.

Is Tylenol or ibuprofen worse for your liver?

The active compound in Tylenol is acetaminophen, which is mostly associated with liver problems. Ibuprofen can also lead to liver damage when used in large doses. 

Users need to be aware that these products, when taken incorrectly, can have dangerous negative effects like severe liver damage or stomach bleeding. 

The liver is an organ capable of repairing its damaged tissues. Still, medicines like Tylenol and ibuprofen impair this ability and reduce its functionality to clean the blood and fight off infections. 

When you have liver damage, your skin and white parts of your eyes turn yellow. The condition is called jaundice, i.e., when the liver cannot filter out bilirubin (a yellowish substance) that builds up in the blood.

Ways to improve liver health

Although you generally don't give your liver much thought, it plays an important role in the digestive system. It filters everything you consume, including medicines. For it to remain healthy and functional, you must treat it properly. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy liver.

  • Limit your alcohol consumption. It may harm the liver cells, causing swelling or scarring that develops into cirrhosis, a potentially fatal condition.

  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy food. With a proper regimen, you get to keep your weight in check and reduce your risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

  • Be cautious with medications. Some medications, like cholesterol drugs, have side effects that lead to liver problems. Common painkillers like Tylenol and ibuprofen damage your liver when used in high doses. Numerous medications, like pain and cold drugs, include these compounds you may consume without knowing.

  • Take a hepatitis virus test. You might not even be aware that you have it because it frequently has no symptoms. Visit your doctor for a hepatitis test if you have contracted the virus.

  • Use herbs and dietary supplements with caution. Some herbs can cause liver damage. Cascara, ephedra, chaparral, kava, and comfrey are just a few that can cause problems.

The lowdown

Ibuprofen is a drug that can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies. Although it doesn't cause liver damage, it has many side effects. Adherence to the recommended dosage is crucial because doing so will reduce your risk of experiencing side effects. 

Keep in mind that not everyone should use ibuprofen. Before using this or any other drug, you should always consult a doctor. They can tell you if the drug is harmful to your health.

Frequently asked questions

How is an inflamed liver treated?

Your diagnosis will determine how to treat your liver condition. Some liver conditions can be addressed with lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking or losing weight, usually as part of a medical regimen that also includes frequent liver function monitoring.

Which painkiller is easiest on the liver?

Ibuprofen usage is regarded as safe for the majority of people. Just be cautious about using it for a long period and only use it according to the advised doses.

What are the signs of liver toxicity?

The symptoms and signs of liver toxicity are similar to those of other liver disorders. They include fatigue, loss of appetite, yellow skin, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Which NSAID is safest for the liver?

As shown in large trials, ibuprofen has no significant liver damage, giving it the best safety profile. Along with aspirin and paracetamol, it is one of the most common NSAIDs in the world.

What are the clinical signs of ibuprofen poisoning?

The symptoms are often not severe if you suffer an ibuprofen overdose. Mild signs include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

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