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“How much Advil is too much Advil?” & other medication dosage FAQs

Knowing how and when to take your medication is key to staying healthy. From advice on skipped doses to insight into daily vitamins, here are some commonly asked questions about medication dosage.

Is it possible to overdose on Advil®?

Yes. Advil is a brand of ibuprofen, which belongs to the class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat fever, mild pain, and inflammation. Taking more Advil than intended can damage your stomach, intestines, or other organs. In some cases, an Advil overdose can be fatal.

The recommended adult dosage is one or two 200 milligram (mg) tablets every 4 to 6 hours, not exceeding 800 mg at once or 3,200 mg per day.

Is it safe to take Advil along with other pain relievers like Tylenol®, Aleve® or aspirin?

Yes and no. Because Advil, Tylenol (or any acetaminophen), Aleve (naproxen sodium) and aspirin are two different classes of pain relievers, they’re processed in different organs. 

NSAIDs ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin are mostly absorbed and passed out of the body through the kidneys. Because these belong to the same class of anti-inflammatory pain reliever, it’s important to not take them together for prolonged periods, as this could lead to gastrointestinal issues from an upset stomach to intestinal bleeding. Taking multiple NSAIDs together often can also lead to a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes and kidney damage in the long run.

Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is an analgesic broken down by the liver. Because our bodies process and react to acetaminophen and NSAIDs differently, it’s generally fine to take them together. This is important to know, because acetaminophen is found in a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) medications you might not think of, like:

  • Cough syrups
  • Menstrual cramp relief
  • Excedrin®
  • Sudafed®

The most important thing to consider when taking multiple pain relievers is keeping track of different dosages

  • While you shouldn’t exceed more than 3,200 mg of Advil a day, you should avoid taking more than 3,250 mg of Tylenol or other acetaminophen a day. 
  • Each pill or tablet of Regular Strength Tylenol is 325 mg, and the recommendation is to take 2 pills every 4 to 6 hours, ingesting no more than 10 in a 24-hour period.
  • Extra Strength Tylenol, at 500 mg per tablet, is recommended at 2 pills every 6 hours, taking no more than 6 tablets in 24 hours. 
  • Doctors recommend taking no more than 3 of Aleve’s 220 mg pills in 24 hours, and no more than 12 Regular Dose (325 mg) aspirin tablets or 48 Low Dose (81 mg) aspirin tablets in 24 hours.

If you feel like your normal dose of Advil is no longer providing you with the relief you need, speak with your doctor first. They may suggest alternative options like prescription medications, topical pain relievers or therapies like massage and acupuncture.

If I miss a dose of my medication, can I just take two the next day?

No. Doubling up on medication can cause serious side effects. The consequences of missing one dose varies depending on the medication. Drugs prescribed to manage epilepsy or diabetes, for example, may result in a more serious outcome when missed.

Always review your medication pamphlet and consult your doctor for instructions if you’ve missed a dose of medication, but the general rule is that if you’ve missed your dose within 2 hours of your usual dosage time, take the missed dose immediately. If you frequently miss doses, consider integrating an automatic medication dispenser such as Hero into your home so you can receive medication reminders when it’s time to take your next dose.

Can I overdose on vitamins and supplements?

Yes. If you feel like you’re not getting enough of a certain vitamin or other nutrient through your diet, it’s natural to reach for a supplement. However, any time you take a vitamin or other nutrient in pill form, it’s possible to take too much.

Vitamins

There are two kinds of vitamins: those that are water-soluble and those that are fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins aren’t generally stored in our bodies, so we need to get them from our diets and supplements. These are less likely to cause issues unless they’re taken in megadoses. There are 9 water-soluble vitamins: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Meanwhile, fat-soluble vitamins are easily stored in your body, which means you can potentially build up toxic levels by taking too much. In your diet, these vitamins come from high-fat foods like fish, nuts and dairy products and vegetables like spinach, kale and carrots The 4 fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

While you always want to speak with your doctor before adding any new supplement or medication to your regimen, it’s particularly important with fat-soluble vitamins since they pose a greater risk for overdose. Read the labels of every vitamin you plan to take to make sure you’re taking the right dosage.

Supplements

Nutritional supplements are an over $122 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. From probiotics to zinc, there are a whole host of supplements we’re all taking regularly. For brevity’s sake, here are two examples: 

  • Many people take calcium supplements to help keep our bones strong and healthy as we age, but getting too much can lead to heart attacks and strokes. That’s why the recommended daily amount is 1,000 to 1,200 mg, which includes the amount of calcium you get from your diet and any supplements. If you’re between the ages of 19 and 50, you should never exceed 2,500 mg per day, and if you’re over 50, your daily maximum should actually be 2,000 mg.
  • Garlic, or garlic oil, is another common supplement taken to help with high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and more. Experts recommend taking 2 to 5 mg of garlic oil per day, or 300 to 1,000 mg of garlic extract per day. Taking too much generally results in an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, bad breath and body odor. If you start bruising easily or suffer nosebleeds or bleeding gums, you may be experiencing an allergy or a bad side effect and should stop taking this supplement immediately.

Why do some supplements include vitamins with a %DV higher than 100%?

Multivitamins and supplements could contain vitamins in quantities above 100% of your daily recommended value (or DV) for a number of reasons.

For one, your body absorbs nutrients less effectively through supplements than through healthy foods. Supplements compensate for this by including more than 100% DV. Additionally, the actual amount of vitamins a person needs each day is by no means a universal number. Percent DV is based on a 2,000 calorie diet in healthy adults, but these numbers are updated often, and will depend on various factors like age, weight, and diet.

You can often find vitamins B-complex and vitamin C in percentages of over 1000%, or even 2000%, which can sound scary to ingest, but don’t worry about overdosing on these vitamins. The amount that you would need to take to see any negative effects from vitamins B or C is much higher than that, and any excess nutrients that your body can’t absorb will get flushed out of your system next time you use the bathroom.

Other nutrients however, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins, do have an Upper Limit (UL) to how much your body can support, and can have long term effects on your health. Small amounts of these vitamins are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction, and health.

What do I do if I took too much Advil or other medication?

If you believe you’ve taken too much of any medication or supplement, stay calm and call your local emergency services or Poison Control, which you can reach 24/7 in the U.S. at 1-800-222-1222. Poison Control’s help is also available online if you’re:

  • Not experiencing serious symptoms, like heart palpitations or trouble breathing
  • In generally good health
  • Not pregnant
  • Between the ages of 6 months and 79 years

Need help staying on track with your meds? 

Hero can help you stay organized with your medication so you avoid missing doses—or accidentally take too much. Hero takes the guesswork out of medication tracking so you can focus on living a happy, healthy life.

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The contents of the above article are for informational and educational purposes only. The article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified clinician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or its treatment and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of information published by us.