Just because over-the-counter pain relievers (OTC) are quick and easy answers to your everyday pain doesn’t mean you are completely clear. To avoid negative effects or adverse reactions, you need to make sure that the combination of drugs, supplements, and vitamins that you take on a regular basis is safe. Even something as harmless as ibuprofen carries risks when taken with a particular supplement. Read on to find out what to do to learn more about medication. If you can’t sleep, this OTC drug could be the reason, experts say.


Dimitar MarinovMD, an assistant professor in the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology at Varna Medical University in Bulgaria, says the combination of ibuprofen and fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding, especially gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastrointestinal bleeding can cause shock, anemia, or even death, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because of this, you should discuss your medications and vitamin therapies with your doctor just in case.

“There is a moderate risk of bleeding when taking fish oil with ibuprofen as it is a possible side effect of both drugs,” he explains Chris Riley, a medication expert and CEO of USA Rx, a prescription discount company. “So when they are combined, the chances of this side effect occurring are doubled.”

And if you want to learn more about risky drug combinations, you put your liver at risk by taking these two OTC drugs together.


However, you don’t have to worry about overeating fish while taking ibuprofen. Chris AireyMD, the medical director at Optimal, says eating fish and taking ibuprofen are not associated with the same risks as taking fish oil supplements with ibuprofen. “The amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a fish oil tablet is much more concentrated,” explains Airey, explaining why they are associated with an additional risk.

And for more about fish oil, when you take this popular supplement, your heart can be at risk, study says.

Picture of the bottle of omega-3 fish oil capsules pouring into hand.iStock

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), a type of drug that contains anti-platelet agents. That said, it can “thin your blood and one of the possible side effects is increased bleeding time,” explains Jessica Nouhavandi, PharmD, senior pharmacist and founder of the online pharmacy Honeybee Health. Therefore, all drugs in this group like aspirin and naproxen can interact negatively with fish oil.

Airey says if you are on any medication that affects your blood or clotting, you should “seek professional medical advice before adding fish oil to your supplement program”. To receive more current information, subscribe to our daily newsletter

Close up picture of female person sitting on sofa holding in hands wounded leg with hematomaiStock

If you have had an adverse interaction from taking ibuprofen and fish oil at the same time, you may experience certain symptoms. According to Riley, less intense warning signs may include lightheadedness and easy bruising.

However, if you notice bleeding from your nose or any other opening, or if you start coughing up blood or notice blood in your stool, you should see a doctor right away. Nouhavandi says you should also watch for continued bleeding or increased bruising, as well as any bruises that don’t go away or become swollen or painful. And if you want to learn more about OTC pain relievers, consider taking Tylenol instead of Advil, doctors say.


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