Diclofenac vs. Ibuprofen

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  • 0:03 What Are NSAIDs?
  • 0:42 Diclofenac vs Ibuprofen
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Diclofenac and ibuprofen are two medications that have many similarities as well as differences. In this lesson, you will learn more about these two medications, how they are similar and what makes them different.

What Are NSAIDs?

There are numerous types of medications that work in all different ways. Drug classifications group medications that work in a similar way. NSAIDs are one drug classification. NSAID is an acronym for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This is a large class of medications that all work similarly to relieve pain and swelling and lower a fever. They work by blocking an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase or COX. Blocking this enzyme inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which signal pain to the brain, increase body temperature, and cause swelling.

Now let's learn about two NSAIDs.

Diclofenac vs Ibuprofen


Let's first take a look at the similarities between diclofenac and ibuprofen. Diclofenac and ibuprofen are two NSAIDs. They have many things in common. For example, they are both used to treat pain and swelling.

You shouldn't take more than one NSAID, so you wouldn't take both diclofenac and ibuprofen together. In fact, if you're taking one of these, you'll need to avoid taking other NSAIDs altogether, since this will greatly increase your risk of side effects. It's really important to read the labels of medications, because NSAIDs may be in many other medications.

Diclofenac and ibuprofen have some serious side effects to be aware of. They can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be severe. Therefore it's highly advised to avoid drinking alcohol while taking either of these medications, since it can greatly increase your risk of developing a bleed.

Taking either diclofenac or ibuprofen increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If you have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, stroke, or if you're at a high risk for these conditions, these medications aren't recommended for you to use.

If you experience any of the following side effects while taking diclofenac or ibuprofen, you should stop taking it and notify your doctor.

  1. Skin reactions
  2. Signs of anemia such as fatigue and fast heart rate
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Signs of liver problems such as clay colored stools, jaundice skin color
  5. Signs of kidney problems such as decreased urine output or swelling

More common and less severe side effects for diclofenac and ibuprofen include upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. You may get a headache or feel dizzy or drowsy. You may also have elevated blood pressure, itching, swelling, or constipation.


Now let's take a look at some of the differences between diclofenac and ibuprofen. It might seem like these two medications are the same, but they're still very different. Let's break down the differences between these two now.

Ibuprofen is available as an over the counter medication and by prescription in higher doses. It's widely available and comes in capsules, tablets, chewables, and liquid forms. It's used for both children and adults.

Ibuprofen can be taken with or without food and will typically start working within 30 minutes. Dosing can be every four, six, or eight hours, depending on the dose and indication for use.

Ibuprofen is used for mild pain such as headaches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, and back pain. The maximum daily dose for an adult is 3200 mg per day. It's probably safe to say that you have some form of ibuprofen in your cabinet right now.

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