Ibuprofen allergy

United States
February 5, 2008 10:16pm CST
Has anyone else out there developed an allergic reaction to ibuprofen? If so, was it the first time you took it, or did you develop it after you had taken it for a while? What were your symptoms and how did you know what was causing them? Advil was always my pain reliever of choice--headache, backache, cramps, I'd take ibuprofen, usually Advil. Then one day last summer my fingertips started to turn red, swell up, and get extremely painful. I had no idea why. Naturally I went to a doctor. They thought it was some sort of weird blood virus and put me on prednisone, and told me to take Advil for the pain. Long story short, I went to five different doctors, all of whom told me to take Advil, and Benadryl in case it was an allergic reaction to something, but no one knew what. Finally, I found a specialist, who saw figured out that all of my symptoms could be caused by an allergic reaction to Advil. By this time, the swollen finger tips, had become swelling and inflamation of all sorts of random body parts, excruciating joint pain, and hives all over my body. Once I found out the cause, I assumed it would get better, but it has been six months now since I've taken any Advil, and I'm still having symptoms. They are 90% better than they were when I was taking the Advil, but they are still there. I get a few hives and some inflammation every day. It's nothing serious--just annoying. Imagine having mosquito bites all the time. Anyone else dealing with this?
2 people like this
23 responses
• United States
2 Oct 08
Yes, I have had a similar reaction. I never had the problem in the past, but I am convinced that I'm having an allergic response to ibuprofen--hives, mild swolleness around the lip and/or eyes, inflamation etc. I will be seeing the Dr. soon.
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Sep 08
it has been years ago that I had a severe reaction to advil that almost killed me and I had been taking it pretty regularly for aches and pains and doing fine. I started feeling hot in my feet and the feeling worked its way upward thru my body quickly. When it reached my throat I felt my airway constricting. I was sitting and when I stood up I became dizzy and lightheaded and stumbled. I could feel my tongue swelling inside my mouth. I tried to get to the bed and as I reached out to grab the wall a black curtain fell down over my eyes and I collapsed. Fortunately my mom and dad were with me and called an ambulance. The 911 operator told them to give me two benadryl until they arrived and it did help my breathing. I didnt lose consciousness, only struggled. It took a little bit for the ambulance to arrive and I my vitals were good when they checked me. I probably should have went to the ER but declined. Instead I had someone take me to my Dr. who saw me right away (but not soon enough) because while I was waiting I became dizzy again and short of breath and lightheaded and had to sit on the bathroom floor feeling like I was going to pass out. When he saw me he gave me an injection of something that made me very sleepy (I dont remember what it was, been awhile) and I havent taken ibuprofen or NSAIDS at my doctors advice since. He told me you can become allergic to anything, at anytime.
1 person likes this
• United States
31 Mar 08
I have always taken Advil, marathons, headaches you name it...it really has worked well for me...until one morning I woke up to the left side of my face very swollen and my lips looked like I had overdosed on serious amounts of collagen, which I had not done. I went to the urgent care, doc said it was uticaria, gave me steroids and it went away. Then one month later in Hawaii I took advil again and poof, my face was like a ballon. Dr. on the island said it is an allergy to advil and I needed to see an allergist to have blood work done. So, my test came back that I am allergic to the dye and coating on advil, and apparently this is very common to suddenly after many exposures, to become "allergic" although the doctors describe it more as a reaction. Get a blood test, it could save your life!
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Feb 08
I personally have no problem taking ibuprofen, but a friend of mine did. She had terrible cramps and didnt have what she normally takes and someone gave her some ibuprofen. Within 1 hr, she felt confused, dizzy, nauseous, and then her hands and feet started to swell. She was in nursing school at the time and they sent her to the ER right away.
• United States
23 Mar 09
For a few years now, I have on very rare occasion developed sudden rash and intense itching - for no apparent reason. This has been happening for maybe 10 years now and seemed to have no apparent cause. It seemed as if I had been in a swarm of mosquitoes. Over the past few months, I began to notice a pattern and planned to put it to the test. That test was, by accident, tonight. Right now, I have the hives and itching. 3 hours ago, for the first time in over 4 months, I took Ibuprofen. I now know that this happens reliably just after taking Ibuprofen. I am allergic to nearly nothing else, but now I look like I spent the last few hours sitting on a fire ant hill. I can't tell you whether I developed it over time or not, as I rarely take any pain medication and normally, when I do take any, it is aspirin. I will be bringing this up with my Dr at the next visit, which just happens to be a about 10 days out. Thanks for the topic. This was a tough one to put together. JC
• United States
14 Jul 09
Congrats on solving the problem! I hope your symptoms are better now.
• United States
23 Jan 10
For the last three years I have suddenly developed severe IBS along with frequent rashes that break out on my knees, elbows, upper back and several other areas I'd rather not mention. I've assumed all along that it was some sort of food allergy such as gluten. And considering that the itching and IBS is more tolerable than dealing with a gluten-free diet, I decided I'd live with whatever it was. My wife claimed that I might be allergic to alchohol - again, I'll live with it. Anyway, I do take ibuprofen fairly frequently due to back pain. Frequently enough that I've begun to worry about what it's doing to my stomach and my kidneys. And then it hit me that maybe I should look into ibuprofen allergies. Here I am reading accounts of people experience the exact same thing I am. So I'm going to do a little experimenting of my own and abstain from taking ibuprofen for a while. I'm so sick of this itching - little blister-like bumps that you literally cannot keep from scratching. They mostly attack my knees and elbows which is strange. Sound familiar to anyone here?
23 Mar 10
Developed hives a few years ago. only at night when I was in bed so was able to control it with benadryl then, about 6 months ago I started waking up in mornings with weals on my body, over the last 6 months they have become progressively worse to the point now they are driving me insane. I have been doing a lot of research on the internet about this and had been thinking about the ibuprofen I have been taking daily for several years for my arthritis. I have been to my doctor who gave me some blood tests, the results came back ok. Anyhow, I don't know if the ibuprofen has caused my urticaria or if it has made it worse but I have stopped taking them 2 days ago, I think it will take a while for them to come out of my system, after all I have been taking them for years, I dread to think the damage they could cause. I had started noticing indigestion like symtoms when I was taking them as well. I have found a natural anti-inflamitory in my health shop - devils claw which I am now taking for my arthritis and have an appointment with a chiropractic. I am still getting the hives but hopefully they will clear up now.
@w_ravi (2)
• Canada
9 Dec 09
Hello BeSeven, I have recently had same symptoms as you with the fingertips. I already figured out its an allergy to ibuprofen and will be seeing a Dr soon. I would just like to know about your last statement. I was just wondering if 2 years after the below post if you still get the Hives and inflammation or has an allergy specialist been able to fix that as well. Regrds Ravi
• Canada
9 Dec 09
Thanks for your response and for being so quick.
• United States
8 Dec 09
I am allergic to Ibuprofen. I am 21 years old and had taken ibuprofen all my life for pain. One day last year, all of a sudden, I had a bad allergic reaction to the medicine. My lips started to itch and my mouth swelled up. Then my eyes began to itch and swell up. By the time I got to the emergency room, my whole face was swollen and my throat was closing up. Six months after this episode, I had a headache, so I took some Excedrin Migraine, like I always have. Excedrin contains Aspirin, which apparently I am allergic to that also. This time, the reaction time was alot shorter and my face and throat swelled up in only 30 minutes from the time I had taken the medicine! I now carry an epi-pen and Benadryl wherever I go.
• United States
20 Jul 09
I think I have just had my first reaction to to ibuprophen --in this case, Advil Liquigels...Like many of you who have posted comments, ibuprophen has been my pain reliever of choice for years, especially in the last couple of years when injuries and arthritis have interfered with my addiction to daily rigorous exercise. During the past two years I've taken the minimum dose (200 mg/day) for several weeks, if not months,at a time. I then developed stomach problems this spring and GERD was part of the diagnosis. My gastroenterologist told me to limit, or preferably eliminate, my use of ibuprophen. I followed his advice until recently when I needed a root canal. The endodontist encouraged me to take Advil liquigels as a way to get around irritation to my stomach. The first time worked great and I was thrilled that I'd found a way to continue taking ibuprophen. However, I now have another toothache and the endodontist thought I might avoid a root canal for this tooth if I took 600 mg/day of Advil liguigels for 7-14 days. On the 3rd day of this regimen, I woke up with a burning, stinging mouthful of cankor sores. I have had only an occasional cankor sore up to this point --I had NO idea such a thing could happen! I could barely eat for 3 days and the pain woke me up at night. Suspecting that Advil was the cause, I stopped taking it, and had some improvement...however the sores have lingered and a week later are finally subsiding. I treated this myself at first by rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, benadryl and milk of magnesia, but then saw my dentist just to be sure there wasn't anything else I should do. He gave me a steriod rinse prescription, and told me take benadryl. My dentist was shocked at the ulcers and swelling in my mouth and said he sees an extreme case like mine only 2x a year. We both thought it might have been an stress-induced autoimmune response, but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced Advil was the cause. Maybe it was the coating on the capsule, but at any rate, I will no longer take Advil liguidgels! I would love to know if anyone else has had this kind of complication!
• United States
9 Dec 09
Mouth sores is about the only symptom the Advil didn't give me. Wow. Hope you haven't had a symptom like this again!
• United States
21 Jun 09
I have taken Ibuprofen for over 20 years and until 4 days ago, had absolutely no problems with it. I took some Ibuprofen for shoulder pain and within 45 minutes my palms itched like crazy. They were blood red and I realized that my lips were tingling and the bottoms of my feet felt like the palms of my hands. I went to the restroom and realized that my face was swollen and I looked like I had extreme sunburn over all my body. I knew that I was having a bad allergic reaction but thought it was the bagel I ate prior to taking the pills. (I'd been taking Ibuprofen for years and couldn't imagine that it could be the problem.) I had a co-worker take me to the emergency room and started to have breathing problems on the way. I got to the emergency room and my blood pressure was 65/40 in addition to the other symptoms. After a couple of hours of Benadryl, Pepcid, and Prednisone I felt better and was released. I was to continue taking those for a couple of days. My shoulder was still very painful so two days later I took the same dose of Ibuprofen prior to going to bed. A couple of hours later I woke up with the same symptoms as I did at work and knew immediately that it was the Ibuprofen not whatever was in the bagel. Luckily the symptoms were not as severe since I was still taking the Benadryl. I took another dose of the Benadryl, Pepcid, and Prednisone and forced myself to go back to sleep. I woke up a little swollen but another couple of doses and the symptoms were under control. Hopefully I can stop taking them after today since the Benadryl makes me sleepy. I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday so hopefully they will be able to sort this out. Needless to say, I won't be taking Ibuprofen anymore.
• Australia
5 Apr 09
After reading your post, I have not taken ibuprofen for a couple of weeks. I am hoping that it is the cause of the strange 'weirdness' that I have been experienciing for the last 6 months or so. So far, after seeing doctor after doctor, and being totally at my wits end, it seems that the only thing I can do is eliminate things one at a time. The symptoms I have are very much like yours. Started with pain in one hand, then the other, swelling, weird hive type swellings, fluid retention etc etc. I seem to have more energy now, but symptoms are still there, if somewhat a tad milder. 6 months and you are 90% better...........sigh. At least it is better than it was. I feel about 10% better so far, and have noticed some improvement although every day is different. Thank you for your post, and I am hoping the imunologist I am seeing again today has some type of test to see if it is the ibuprofen that is causing this.
• United States
18 Mar 09
I had taken ibuprofen for every pain, headache, cramps whatever. It worked well for years one night I had a headache and my husband wanted to go out to eat. I took 600mg of advil. About an hour later I developed hives and an upset stomache. I took Benadryl and within 5 minutes my tongue started to swell and the hives got much worse. I told my husband to get me to the emergency room quickly. When I finally got there I walked in said about 5 words and passed out completely. When I was revived I was told that I would not have lived if I had been 10 minutes later. It took one more incident before we found out that it was ibuprofen that caused it. Now they say I can never take any anti-inflamatory med. again.
• United States
14 Jul 09
OMG! You are so lucky to be alive. I think everyone should carry benadryl at all times, because you never know when you could develop a severe allergic reaction to something. Better safe than sorry. I also can never take an NSAID again.
@agrant10 (1446)
• United States
24 Oct 08
I have not personally but my spouse apparently when taken experiences a itching that is out of this world also little bumps will appear all over the skin. The doctors said it was an allergic reaction. So we have to be very careful to watch what is taken.
• Nigeria
14 Nov 08
I started taking ibuprofen late last year because of a tail end spine pain, after about a week or so i was generally misreable and couldnt pinpoint what exactly was wrong with me. Then suddenly i could seem to keep anything down and i threw up every thing i ate. i even had breathing problems. it took the doctors a while to figure out i had ulcer. and i genrally atribited it 2 my deiting. Now this week i have been on Ibuprofen and that same condition and feeling is back. and i just realised its whats causing m misery i have been having stomach discomfort and have thrown up 2 times and have feverish feelings.
• United States
23 Oct 08
I have always taken Ibuprofen because Tylenol seems to do nothing for me. One morning while I was getting ready for work I popped two Ibuprofen for a headache I had. I had taken the pills around 7:00 am. Around 8:30 while sitting at work my throat started to close up, my whole body was red and my skin literally hurt without even touching it. I was rushed to the hospital and given a large dose of Benadryl and after an hour or two I started to fell and look normal again. That was a little over two years ago. I still haven't gone to a Allergist for any testing. I have just stayed away from Ibuprofen and I haven't had any symptoms since.
• United States
14 Jul 09
I hope you're still doing okay.
• United States
21 Oct 08
I'm reading these blogs because I'm also having a reaction to Advil. I had dental work done and the dentist told me to take Advil for pain and swelling. The Advil did wonders till I started breaking out in hives. I have them mainly in the morning and my tongue feels swollen. I have also had chest pains so bad I thought I was having a heart attack, so of course I would take more Advil and it would seem to subside. I'm going to stop the Advil today and see what happens and I hope the feeling of my skin crawling, swollen tongue, hives and chest pains go away.Please let me know if other people have had these sympyoms and if just stopping made them go away without any lasting effects.
• United States
9 Dec 09
Limoguy, Did your symptoms go away? Please let me know. Thanks!
• Australia
27 Jul 11
Hi there, l know its been a while since you posted this. l have the same problem, always taken ibuprofen, then became alergic to it a few years ago. My problem now is that l dont know what to take for my back pain. Was wondering how you have gone over the years and have you found an alternative pain relief? Thanks
@shynie (556)
• Philippines
19 May 11
Hi BeSeven. Thank God I dont have allergies of the kind in Ibuprofen. I am very dependent on Advil everytime I feel pain. I think it's best that you dont take any more of Ibuprofen because it may jeopardize your health.
@cream97 (29180)
• United States
19 May 11
Hi. BeSeven. I think that you should just stop taking Ibuprofen and Advil. If both of these medicines are causing you an allergic reaction, I think that you should stop taking it. I have never broken out on my skin because of pain reliever tablets at all. I have stopped taking an Hair Vitamin pill. It had too much of dosage in it and I got an allergic reaction from it. So, I have stopped taking this hair vitamin pill. I hope that you will feel better very soon though.
17 Apr 11
Was browsing the Internet in hopes of finding people that have had similar allergic reactions to Ibuprofen. So glad I found this discussion. I had been taking Motrin for years since I was in middle school. I had experienced painful menstrual cramps that would keep me home every month. When my mother took me to the doctor, he prescribed 1200 mg of Motrin which helped for the cramps. I used Motrin from 13 years old all the way to my late 20's when I started experiencing hives & eye swelling. I didn't make the connection that it was an allergic reaction to Motrin (because I had been using Motrin for years.) It wasn't until I was on a trip & my eye kept swelling that a friend of mine asked what medications I may be taking or different foods I had tried for the first time while on the trip. I told her I hadn't eaten anything new nor taken any new medications. She told me to stop taking any medication that I was on, see if the swelling goes down & then start the medication again & see if the swelling returns. Sure enough the eye swelling returned after going back on the Motrin. I tried it another time after the initial process of elimination & the swelling did return. I have not used Ibuprofen since but worry about what long term effects it may have taken on my body. In adulthood, I have been diagnosed w/Rosacea. Can't help wondering if the longterm Motrin use may have played a role.
@scosta (1)
• United States
17 Mar 11
Thanks for posting this, I stopped taking Advil and all my inflammatory arthritis went away. But it was not easy to make that discovery. For 5 years I have not thought about this question because I have been pain-free ever since my nightmare experience with ibuprofen. Did a search out of curiosity and found your post. From 1996 (possibly before then) to 2005, my life was miserable. I saw numerous rheumatologists who considered my condition to be psoriatic arthritis, or seronegative spondyloarthropathy of some kind. My condition was mild enough...to them. I walked like a 90 year old man; couldn't sneeze because my sternum was on fire. In order of intense pain to less: sternum, Achilles tendons, toes (swollen red), shoulders, and neck. I am 37 as of this writing. While I am 100% pain free today (took my last pill over 5 years ago), I still have some marking (no pain) of where the inflammation did damage to my connective tissue. This was no ordinary allergy. It took 2-3 months for all the residual pain to clear after taking the last pill. Shortly after all my pain went away, I took a pill for a headache...and all the pain came back. All of it in days! Again, 2-3 months to wash out. No joke. How did I discover it was ibuprofen? After popping Advil after Advil which only reduced the pain - but did nothing about the swelling, redness. I always felt a throbbing sensation even though the Advil worked against the pain; it masked the pain somewhat while it was in my system. The inflammation was always there, however. My rheumatologists learned about this and they looked at me like I had seven heads. Only one believed me in earnest. I have not been back to them because frankly I am better than ever. But not one of them heard of such a thing. I'd be happy to talk more about it if you wish and I would not mind doing so by personal email. Do let me know. Be well Sergio
@cyrri_ako (461)
• Philippines
25 Oct 10
i also have allergy to ADvil. when i took it, my eyes became swollen..and i swore i'll never take it again..