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How long does ibuprofen take to work?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Dec 20, 2022.

Official answer


Ibuprofen takes about 20 to 30 minutes to start working and its maximum effects are usually seen within 1 to 2 hours. For some people who have had pain for weeks or months, it may take several days of regular dosing before you notice some relief.

Food can increase the time it takes for ibuprofen to be absorbed, although it won’t affect how much is absorbed. Taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach may give you faster symptom relief, although it may increase the risk of stomach-related side effects, such as indigestion.

One dose of ibuprofen provides pain relief for four to six hours. But it may take at least 10 hours for your body to completely rid your system of ibuprofen. This is because it has a half life of 1.9 to 2.2 hours and experts generally agree it takes 4 to 5 half lives for your body to completely eliminate ibuprofen, which equals approximately 10 hours.

  • Ibuprofen. Revised 05/2022. Slate Run Pharmaceuticals, LLC

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