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Is Ibuprofen a Blood Thinner?

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Ibuprofen is one of the most common pain relievers available over-the-counter to treat minor aches, pains, and inflammation; ibuprofen is commonly referred to by its brand name, Advil. In addition to pain relief, ibuprofen is commonly used to reduce fever in adults and children. This drug belongs to a group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen is not a blood thinner; however, similar to other NSAIDs, ibuprofen can have a mild effect on the normal blood clotting process. To be more specific, ibuprofen increases the time your body takes to form blood clots. In other words, ibuprofen slows down the process of blood clot formation, making it harder for blood clotting to occur.

Ibuprofen is considered to be a fairly safe drug for the majority of healthy people. However, if you are already taking a blood thinner medication like warfarin, Eliquis, or Xarelto, taking ibuprofen will put you at a higher risk of bleeding and stomach ulcers. Please continue reading to learn more about how ibuprofen might increase your bleeding risk.

Does ibuprofen thicken or thin your blood?

Ibuprofen does not technically “thin” your blood; it slows down the blood clotting time. As mentioned, ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that blocks COX enzymes in the body and prevents the formation of substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are involved in inflammation and blood clot formation. By blocking the production of prostaglandins, ibuprofen reduces symptoms of pain and inflammation, but it can also slow down the normal process of blood clotting. 

Are ibuprofen or Tylenol blood thinners?

Ibuprofen and Tylenol (acetaminophen) are not blood thinners. Tylenol does not have blood thinning effects. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, can cause thinning of the blood and stomach bleeding as adverse effects, especially in patients who are on blood thinners. 

Which painkillers are blood thinners?

Painkillers are not blood thinners. However, painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve) have blood thinning effects. These medications should be used with caution if you take blood thinners (antiplatelet drugs like aspirin or anticoagulants like warfarin [Coumadin]).

Does ibuprofen thin the blood like aspirin? 

Ibuprofen is not as strong as aspirin in thinning blood, but it can still slow down blood clotting time. Aspirin is an antiplatelet drug that stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots. 

Should you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent blood clotting? 

No, even though NSAIDs like ibuprofen have a blood thinning effect, you should not take ibuprofen, or any other NSAIDs, to prevent blood clotting. It is important to know that ibuprofen must not be used in place of a prescription blood thinner like warfarin, Eliquis, Xarelto, or clopidogrel (Plavix). 

It is also worth noting that taking ibuprofen with blood thinners raises the risk of bleeding, especially in the digestive tract. Long-term use of ibuprofen can also cause kidney damage and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. 

If you are on blood thinners and need to take something for pain relief, talk to your doctor about the safety of taking ibuprofen. Your doctor may recommend other drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol). However, keep in mind that taking high doses of acetaminophen over an extended period can cause liver damage leading to liver disease or even liver failure. If you have other medical conditions and you need to treat pain that does not go away in a short period of time, such as pain from osteoarthritis (OA), consult your doctor for the most appropriate pain reliever, in addition to the correct dosage and duration of therapy.

Options for pain relief if you’re taking a blood thinner

As mentioned above, taking ibuprofen and a blood thinner together can lead to an increased risk of general bleeding, stomach bleeding, and ulcers. If you are taking blood thinners and have a health condition requiring long-term use of pain relievers, it’s important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Doctors generally advise taking painkillers like ibuprofen at the lowest dose for the shortest time possible until your symptoms subside. However, if interactions between your blood thinner and ibuprofen are causing problems, you may need to stop taking ibuprofen completely. 

If you have arthritis or other medical conditions that require long-term treatment with pain relievers, your doctor may recommend other medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) that do not have interactions with blood thinners. If Tylenol does not control your symptoms, there are other options for pain relief that you can discuss with your healthcare provider. Also, there are non-pharmacological modalities that can be very beneficial in the long run. Examples include physical therapy, aqua therapy, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic therapy.

Reference:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/bad-mix-blood-thinners-and-nsaids