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Ibuprofen poisoning in children and adolescents

Frederick M Henretig, MD
Section Editor
Michele M Burns, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


The evaluation and management of acute overdose of ibuprofen in children and adolescents is reviewed here.

The management of acute overdose of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen, in adults and the chronic toxicity of NSAIDs is discussed separately. (See "Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) poisoning" and "Nonselective NSAIDs: Overview of adverse effects".)


Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) that has been available as an over-the-counter preparation since 1984 [1]. Based upon reports to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, ibuprofen as a single substance accounts for approximately 51,000 in children and adolescents annually, with the majority of reports occurring in children under six years of age [2]. Major effects or death from ibuprofen poisoning is rare. (See "Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) poisoning".)


Ibuprofen is a propionic acid derivative. Like other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it inhibits cyclooxygenase (prostaglandin synthase), thereby impairing the ultimate transformation of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins, prostacyclin, and thromboxanes (figure 1). Ibuprofen has analgesic, antipyretic, antiinflammatory, and uterine muscle effects that largely are mediated by reduced prostaglandin synthesis although other mechanisms of action are proposed. (See "NSAIDs: Pharmacology and mechanism of action".)

Pharmacokinetics – The pharmacokinetics of ibuprofen are as follows (see "Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) poisoning", section on 'Kinetics'):

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 16, 2017.
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