If you pick up a bottle of ibuprofen to ease your headache or a bottle of calcium supplements because you're worried about osteoporosis, you may not think these medicine cabinet additions warrant a chat with your doctor. But like all medications and supplements, ibuprofen and calcium can affect your existing conditions and interfere with other medications and supplements you might take, so talking to your doctor about taking ibuprofen or calcium supplements is a good idea.
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The Facts: Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is a type of pain reliever called a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that relieves pain, inflammation and fever by inhibiting the production of chemicals in your body that cause these symptoms. Ibuprofen is available over the counter for everyday pain and discomfort; your doctor can also prescribe stronger doses for serious pain, such as that caused by arthritis. If you take other medications or supplements, check with your doctor before taking ibuprofen; this medication can cause serious side effects when mixed with other pain medications.
The Facts: Calcium
Your body needs 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day to keep your bones and teeth strong, help transmit messages through your nervous system, clot blood and perform other essential tasks. If you're a woman older than 50 or a man over 71, your need increases to 1,200 milligrams per day. You get calcium from foods like dairy products, green vegetables and calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice. Your body also needs vitamin D -- which you can get from sunlight, fortified milk and juice or vitamin D-rich foods like egg yolks and liver -- to properly absorb the calcium you consume. If you need calcium supplements to meet your daily calcium recommendations, talk to your doctor; in rare cases, getting too much calcium can cause kidney health issues.
There are no known interactions between calcium and ibuprofen, according to the medication information site Drugs.com, but your specific condition and treatment regimen could cause side effects. Always check with your doctor before adding calcium supplements or prescription or over-the-counter ibuprofen to your care regimen.
Though ibuprofen and calcium don't interact with each other, both of them are among the most common over-the-counter medications that people -- especially elderly people -- fail to disclose to their doctors, according to researchers at the University of Florida. Combining ibuprofen with other prescription or over-the-counter NSAIDs can significantly increase risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, while calcium supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of some prescription drugs. For this reason, it's important to talk to your doctor about your ibuprofen use and calcium consumption.