Taking more than the recommended dose of any medication can be risky. When it comes to Advil (ibuprofen), taking more than directed can lead to potential overdose and dangerous side effects. However, in some cases, taking an extra tablet may be appropriate if done carefully and under medical supervision.
The general recommendation is to not exceed more than 1200mg of ibuprofen in a 24 hour period. For Advil in particular, the maximum recommended dose is 6 tablets (1200mg) per day. So taking 2 tablets (400mg) at once is generally considered safe by most medical experts as long as it does not lead to exceeding the maximum daily dose, and is not done regularly without medical supervision.
What is the Recommended Dosage for Advil?
Advil is available in several different forms and dosages, but the most common are 200mg and 400mg tablets. The general recommended dosage for adults and children over age 12 is:
- 200-400mg every 4-6 hours as needed, up to a maximum of 1200mg per day.
For many situations, including headaches, muscle aches, back pain, menstrual cramps, tooth pain, the recommended dose is 200-400mg every 4-6 hours as needed. So taking 1-2 200mg tablets or half to 1 full 400mg tablet every 4-6 hours is generally considered safe and effective.
Maximum Daily Dose
No matter which strength tablet you are using, the maximum recommended daily dose is 1200mg or 6 tablets of 200mg strength. This includes all sources of ibuprofen for the day.
It’s important not to regularly exceed 1200mg per day unless specifically instructed by a doctor, as higher doses increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal issues, kidney problems, and cardiovascular effects.
Is it Safe to Take 2 Advil Tablets (400mg) At Once?
Taking 2 tablets of 200mg Advil (400mg total) as a single dose is generally considered safe by most medical experts, as long as:
- You do not exceed more than 6 tablets (1200mg) in a 24 hour period
- You space out doses by at least 4-6 hours
- You only do it occasionally, not regularly without medical supervision
The maximum dose in a single tablet of Advil is 400mg. So taking 2 of the 200mg tablets to get 400mg at once is not exceeding the allowed single dose. It also falls within the recommended range of 200-400mg every 4-6 hours as needed.
However, there are some important factors to consider before taking 2 tablets regularly:
- Increased risk of side effects – A 400mg dose comes with higher risk of side effects like upset stomach, heartburn, drowsiness, and ringing in the ears compared to 200mg.
- Increased risk if taken too often – If you take 400mg doses more than 2-3 times in 24 hours regularly, you are more likely to develop serious stomach, kidney, or heart problems.
- Duration of action – Ibuprofen lasts 4-6 hours, so you may not need a 400mg dose for adequate pain relief if you don’t have severe pain.
For these reasons, it is best to take 400mg only occasionally when needed for more severe pain, and stick to 200mg doses if you find yourself needing to take ibuprofen regularly throughout the day.
What Are the Dangers of Taking Too Much Advil?
Exceeding the recommended dosage of Advil can lead to problems, especially if done regularly. Potential dangers include:
1. Upset stomach, nausea, and gastrointestinal bleeding
Ibuprofen can irritate the digestive tract, especially at higher doses. This can lead to symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastric ulcers
- Bleeding in the stomach and intestines
Those at highest risk include the elderly, people with a history of GI issues, and those taking blood thinners or corticosteroids.
2. Kidney problems
Ibuprofen and other NSAID pain relievers can reduce blood flow to the kidneys at high doses. This can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure over time, especially in those already at risk due to:
- Advanced age
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Other medications
Warning signs of potential kidney problems include swelling, decreased urine output, and shortness of breath.
3. Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
There is some evidence that chronic high-dose NSAID use can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke by as much as 10-50%. Those at highest risk include people with:
- Existing heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- History of smoking
The risk seems directly linked to both dose and duration of NSAID use.
4. Medication interactions
Ibuprofen can interact with several other medications, including:
- Blood thinners – Increased bleeding risk
- Antihypertensives – Reduced efficacy
- Lithium – Increased lithium levels
- Methotrexate – Increased methotrexate levels
- Corticosteroids – Increased risk of GI bleeding and ulcers
Be sure to consult with a pharmacist or doctor about potential interactions if you take any chronic medications.
5. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Higher doses of ibuprofen can sometimes cause temporary ringing or buzzing in the ears. Discontinue use if this occurs.
6. Skin reactions
In rare cases, ibuprofen can cause skin reactions like rash, itching, and facial swelling. Seek medical help if you experience these.
Who Should Not Take Extra Strength Advil?
Certain people should avoid taking more than 200mg of Advil at once without medical supervision. This includes:
- Children under age 12 – Not studied or approved for doses over 200mg in this age group.
- People over age 65 – Increased side effect risks.
- Those with GI ulcers or bleeding disorders – Higher likelihood of stomach bleeding.
- People with kidney disease – Increased risk of further kidney damage.
- Individuals with heart disease – Chance of exacerbating cardiovascular issues.
- People taking blood thinners – Raise probability of bleeding events.
- Those taking lithium, methotrexate, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, or corticosteroids – Potential for drug interactions.
- People with aspirin allergy or NSAID sensitivity – More likely to react with side effects.
- Pregnant women – Should avoid regular high dose NSAID use.
For any of these high risk groups, it is best to consult a doctor before exceeding 200mg per dose of ibuprofen. And for those taking other medications, always speak to a pharmacist first about potential interactions.
What to Do if You Accidentally Take Too Much Advil
If you accidentally exceed the recommended Advil dosage, seek medical assistance based on amount ingested and symptoms:
- Call poison control or go to the ER if you take more than 800mg at once, or are experiencing concerning symptoms like vomiting blood, black stool, mental confusion, or inability to urinate.
- For doses under 800mg – Drink plenty of water, take antacids, eat something, and wait for any symptoms to resolve. Seek medical help if you experience persistent vomiting, bloody stool, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or worrisome neurological symptoms.
- Monitor closely for any side effects in the hours after the extra dose and notify your doctor promptly if they persist or you have any concerns.
Repeatedly taking more Advil than directed seriously increases your risks, so be sure to carefully follow dosage instructions going forward after any incidence of excess use.
Ways to Take Advil More Safely
To keep your Advil use within the recommended guidelines and avoid complications, keep these safe use tips in mind:
- Carefully read and follow all dosage instructions every time you use.
- Take only 1 tablet (200mg) per dose unless you need to temporarily increase to 2 tablets for severe pain.
- Always swallow pills whole with a full glass of water, and while sitting or standing.
- Avoid use for more than 10 consecutive days without consulting your doctor.
- Don’t take more than directed even if your pain persists – speak to a doctor if this occurs.
- Avoid combining Advil with any other NSAID pain relievers.
- Use the lowest effective dose possible, especially if taking long-term.
- Keep track of exactly how much you have taken to stay under daily limits.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist before combining Advil with any other medication.
Closely following dosage guidelines, being aware of daily limits, and reporting any concerning symptoms to your doctor can help minimize risks when using Advil or any ibuprofen product.
The Bottom Line
Taking 400mg of Advil as a single dose by consuming 2 of the 200mg tablets is generally considered safe for most healthy adults occasionally. However, it does come with increased potential for side effects and should be avoided regularly without medical supervision.
To use Advil safely, do not exceed:
- 400mg per dose
- 1200mg in any 24 hour period
- 10 days of continuous use
Those at higher risk for complications should not take more than 200mg per dose without consulting a doctor. And exceeding 800mg at one time can be cause for seeking emergency care.
Always follow dosage directions carefully, watch for any side effects, and speak with a medical professional if you have any concerns when taking Advil or ibuprofen products.