Is ibruprofen a blood thinner?
One of the questions people ask about the commonest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (ibuprofen) is if it is a blood thinner. Blood thinning medications are known to prevent or reduce the clotting of blood clots, they interrupt the process involved in blood clot formation and affect the smooth flowing of blood through the arteries and veins.
Well, ibuprofen is not really classified as a blood thinner like aspirin but it can slow down the time and process of your blood clotting. This means that if you have an injury where you bleed, it will take longer time for your blood to clot if you have taken ibuprofen. Read on to understand better if ibuprofen can thin your blood.
WHAT IS IBUPROFEN?
Ibuprofen (also known as Advil, Motrin and any other generic equivalents) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can be used to reduce fever, inflammation and pain. Ibuprofen is used to treat toothache, arthritis, menstrual cramps and other aches or pain.
This drug just like other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) works by blocking a group of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (COX enzymes) like COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes helps to produce prostaglandins which control many different processes such as inflammation, blood flow, and the formation of blood clots.
COX-1 protects the lining of the stomach and surrounding cells, while COX-2 blocks the release of prostaglandin in response to pain, inflammation and fever. Ibuprofen influences the activities of both COX-1 and COX-2 thereby relieving symptoms.
IS IBUPROFEN A BLOOD THINNER?
Researchers have studied the effects of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and relationship to a blood clotting disorder known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). The result from the study showed that using these drugs can increase the risk of having dangerous clotting in the legs and lungs to 80 percent. The reason for this increase is unclear but it is advised that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs be taken with caution.
However, ibuprofen is not actually classified as a blood thinner but it has mild blood-thinning properties. This drug does not thin your blood but it can slow down the time and process of blood clotting. Ibuprofen will increase the time your body to form blood clots after a cut or an injury. The drug also slows down the process of forming blood clot, making you to bleed longer than normal.
Ibuprofen is a very safe drug for most healthy people. But, if you are taking or already taken blood thinner medication like warfarin, Eliquis, or Xarelto, taking ibuprofen will increase your risk of bleeding and having stomach ulcers. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanded that a warning about bleeding risks should be added to the labels of all over-the-counter products with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
IS IBUPROFEN A BLOOD THINNER LIKE ASPIRIN?
Ibuprofen is different from aspirin, they are both classified under non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but they have different effects on the body. While ibuprofen works on both COX-1 and COX-2, aspirin has more effects on COX-1 by strongly blocking it.
Ibuprofen is not a blood thinner like aspirin. One of the effects aspirin has on the body is by affecting a substance known as thromboxane A2 (TxA2). TxA2 is responsible for telling the platelets when it is time to form a clot. Aspirin stops this substance from sending signal to the platelets thereby preventing blood clots. Ibuprofen has just mild effect on the TxA2 and the effect wears off quickly.
SHOULD YOU TAKE IBUPROFEN TO PREVENT BLOOD CLOTTING?
We already explained that ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have mild properties of blood thinning but you should not take ibuprofen in a bid to prevent blood clotting. You should never use ibuprofen in place of prescription blood thinner like warfarin, Eliquis, Xarelto, or clopidogrel (Plavix).
Also, taking ibuprofen with blood thinning medications can increase your risk of bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract. If you need relief for your pain or ache but you are taking blood thinning medications, you can see your doctor to recommend other drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol).
IS IBUPROFEN A BLOOD THINNER FOR PERIOD?
There may be some months when women experience heavy bleeding and painful periods, this is caused by the high level of hormones known as prostaglandins. The prostaglandins dilate blood vessels and slow down the process of blood clotting. They also help to shed the uterine lining by bringing about contractions of the muscles. When the level of these hormones are high, the result is heavier bleeding and more severe menstrual cramps.
An article published by Science Direct in 206 showed that ibuprofen can reduce the level of prostaglandin in the lining of the uterine, this may help to reduce menstrual flow although how this works is unknown. A review by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2019 on the topic found that NSAIDs are more effective at reducing blood loss in women with heavy menstrual bleeding than placebo.
However, a study in the An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology published in 1986 specifically compared ibuprofen to a placebo. The study included 24 women and half of the population were given ibuprofen while the half were given placebo. The findings showed that there were 25 percent reduction in menstrual flow for those who were given ibuprofen. The evidence is not really strong as the study is very small.
IS IBUPROFEN A BLOOD THINNER BEFORE SURGERY?
One of the tips or precautions your doctor will give you before a surgery procedure is to avoid some medications as they will cause complications during and after the surgery. One of the most important things surgeons look out for during and after a surgery procedure is bleeding. Excess Bleeding can lead to many complications including death.
One of the drugs that is usually not recommended before surgery is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) of which ibuprofen is among. This is because the medicines under this class of drug can increase your risk of bleeding. They are not even recommended as pain relievers as they contain some properties of blood thinning.
You should not take ibuprofen like Advil, Motrin, Midol, Nuprin and others for 7 days prior to surgery. However, a research review by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2022 suggests that ibuprofen does not increase the risk of bleeding after plastic surgery procedures. The review used high quality studies to compare using ibuprofen and other pain medications for patients undergoing plastic surgery-related operations.
The researchers found used four studies in which 443 patients were randomly assigned to ibuprofen or other medications. All the studies had patients who started using ibuprofen either before or immediately after surgery, and continued for at least one week. The surgery procedures for the studies included cosmetic facial surgery, breast cancer surgery, hernia repair, and skin cancer surgery and reconstruction.
The same dose of ibuprofen (400 mg every four hours) was used in all studies. The other treatments to be compared were acetaminophen, acetaminophen plus codeine, or the prescription-only NSAID ketorolac. From the data assembled, all medications used for the studies provided good control of pain. Out of all the patients, only seven percent of patients assigned to ibuprofen and 11 percent assigned to comparison drugs were dissatisfied with their pain treatment.
All the medications used in the studies were similar in their bleeding risk. Risk of bleeding after surgery were 3.5 percent for ibuprofen and 4.1 percent for other treatments. The researchers believe that for plastic and dermatologic (skin) surgery procedures that involve small areas of the body, ibuprofen can control the pain without increasing the risk of bleeding.
The findings from the research shows that when compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ibuprofen has just a temporary and short effect on how the platelet functions.
IS IBUPROFEN A BLOOD THINNER BEFORE EPIDURAL INJECTION?
An epidural injection is used to relieve pain and discomfort that affect ntje back pain and spine. It is a very safe procedure that can be taken by anyone but there are precautions that are needed for the process to go smoothly. Some of the precautions involve the medication to be taken before the injection. Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should not be used before an epidural injection. This is because these drugs affect the activity of the platelets in the blood and this influences how blood clots.
The most concern doctors have for patients who take ibuprofen before the injection is that the injection can cause lot of bleeding and ibuprofen can obstruct this from happening resulting to side effects for the patient. Most doctors have this issue as most patients may take the drug before the injection, have another doctor or health practitioner prescribe it for them or they may not even be aware they are taking NSAIDs.
This is why it is very important that you tell your doctor every medication you are taking to prevent side effects. In fact, if you want to be on the safe side, you can stop taking all medications at least 7 days before the injection day.
University of Illinois Hospital, You should note that:
- Cervical or neck injections cannot be done while taking ibuprofen
- Lower back injections can be done while taking ibuprofen but it may increase your risk of bleeding.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces pain, fever and inflammation. However, it is not recommended to be used at all times as it has the ability to slow down the time and process of blood clotting. Although the effects are mild and temporary, it is safer to avoid them than to risk having side effects.