This is the first of a series of posts about essential medications that should be kept both on the shelf at home and in the duffel for travel. Many of these medications will be OTC in the majority of the US but may have special purchasing requirements. It is up to the reader to maintain compliance with laws both domestically (US) and abroad.
Today’s entry is Ibuprofen. Also known as Motrin, Ranger Candy, Advil, etc. This is one of the most commonly used medications in remote, deployment, survival, etc situations as well as domestically in the primary care setting. It is classified as an NSAID or NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug and is prescribed or recommended primarily for mild pain from a host of sources such as musculoskeletal injuries, dental pain, headaches, and many others as well as being effective for fever.
OTC dosing is generally 200-400mg every 8 hours, prescription dosing is generally accepted as being up to 800mg every 8 hours for adults. These numbers are based on a healthy adult, users should consult drug packaging when deciding how much to take and on what schedule.
Ibuprofen can cause stomach upset in particular when taken on an empty stomach. For this reason when I prescribe or suggest Ibuprofen I recommend it be taken with food, this does not necessitate a full meal but at least some kind of snack to buffer the GI tract. Caution should be used if you have chronic or acute GI problems such as ulcers or other bleeding issues.
For the average headache a single dose is commonly effective however for musculoskeletal injuries such as a rolled ankle or sprained wrist a 7-14 day dosing plan may be required. Keeping this in mind I generally try to keep enough on hand for an adult prescription strength dose for 14 days at a minimum. That is 168 200mg tablets. I prefer tablets as they have, in my experience, survived storage and travel better than gel tabs and they are less expensive. Advil is the most heavily marketed brand but many chains have a store brand that can be had for less for exactly the same drug.
In closing, Ibuprofen is an excellent item to keep stocked up on as it is used for a wide variety of problems, is fairly cheap, has minimal side effects for most people, and can be stored in large quantities easily.
Remember, the decision to take any of the drugs I discuss is on the reader and it is up to you to decide on the when, what, and how much to take. I accept and you should expect me to take no responsibility for the decisions you make.