Ibuprofen for fever after a vaccination

What is ibuprofen?

If your child has a temperature higher than 38.5°C after a vaccination (or any other time) and this is making your child uncomfortable or miserable, ibuprofen can be given to help ease any discomfort.

Ibuprofen is also used to relieve mild to moderate pain and to reduce inflammation. It is one of a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The main effect of NSAIDs is to reduce inflammation, which is the body’s way of reacting to an injury or infection, as a way of healing the body. The inflammation can cause swelling, pain, warmth and redness.

Who can take ibuprofen?

Adults and children older than 3 months can take ibuprofen.

Some adults and children cannot use ibuprofen. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs may not be suitable for people with:

  • stomach problems such as ulcers or bleeding
  • heart or kidney problems
  • high blood pressure
  • asthma.

If you or your child has any of these problems, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using ibuprofen.

Dosing

Adults

Adults can take 200–400 mg, three or four times a day, but no more than a total of 2400 mg over a 24-hour period.

Children

The dose of ibuprofen for children is worked out according to how much your child weighs.

In children, a single dose is 5–10 mg of ibuprofen for every kilogram (kg) of your child’s weight. This dose can be given three or four times a day.

There are many forms of ibuprofen including liquids and tablets. Make sure you have the right product for your child’s age. Follow the instructions on the medicines label or those given by your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that you give your child the correct dose for their weight and that you don’t exceed the maximum recommended dose.

Side effects

Like all medicines, ibuprofen can cause side effects including:

  • stomach upset (e.g. nausea, diarrhoea or indigestion)
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • high blood pressure 
  • fluid retention.

When used for long periods of time, ibuprofen may cause damage to the gut (e.g. stomach ulcers or bleeding) and can cause kidney problems.

Take ibuprofen only when needed and at the lowest recommended dose that improves symptoms, for the shortest time possible.

Stop taking ibuprofen and tell your doctor immediately if you develop:

  • breathing difficulties
  • swollen ankles
  • dark coffee-coloured vomit
  • black stools.

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

Interactions

It’s important that you tell your health professional about all the medicines you are taking — including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (herbal/‘natural’/vitamins/mineral) medicines — as they may interact with ibuprofen.

Keep a list of all your medicines and take it with you when you visit the doctor or pharmacist.

If you are taking low-dose aspirin for heart and circulatory problems (cardiovascular disease), you should avoid taking ibuprofen regularly as it may affect the protective effect of aspirin. An occasional dose of an NSAID such as ibuprofen is not thought to do this. Talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you to take these medicines together.

If you are taking ibuprofen, avoid taking aspirin or another NSAID for fever or pain relief, as it will increase the chance of side effects with ibuprofen

Medicines used to treat fungal infections (fluconazole and voriconazole) may increase the chance of side effects with ibuprofen so you may need a lower dose of ibuprofen to prevent this from happening.

Ibuprofen (and all NSAIDs) can also interact with other groups (classes) of medicines including:

  • medicines that can increase the risk of bleeding (e.g. warfarin); talk to your doctor about alternative medicines for fever or pain relief
  • medicines for high blood pressure (antihypertensives) and heart failure; ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can cause fluid retention and raise your blood pressure, so your doctor may need to monitor your condition more closely
  • medicines that may affect kidney function (this may increase the chance of kidney problems with ibuprofen)
  • medicines that are removed from the body via the kidney; NSAIDs can also affect kidney function and so the amount of these other medicines in your body may rise more than it should, increasing your chance of side effects
  • medicines that can raise potassium levels in your blood (e.g. ACE inhibitors); NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can also raise your potassium levels, so your doctor may need to monitor your potassium levels more closely.

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist about whether your medicines are safe to take with ibuprofen. You can also read the consumer medicines information (CMI) leaflet for your medicine (if available).

Call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

References
  1. Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook, July 2012.
  2. Sweetman S, ed. Martindale: The complete drug reference [online]. London: Pharmaceutical Press.