Now more than ever, drug tests have become commonplace in sports, the workplace, and the court system. And if you have a looming screening, you may be asking: Does Ibuprofen show up in urine drug tests?
A drug test is administered to detect the presence of certain medications and substances. In the workplace, a drug-free environment can increase productivity, improve safety, lower absenteeism, and reduce workers’ compensation fillings. Outside of the workplace, drug screening will deter athletes from using banned substances and even help regulate criminal activity. With such significant benefits, it’s not hard to see why more and more institutions are opting to administer these tests.
Drug testing is, however, not a perfect science. Inaccurate drug tests are more common than you may think. In fact, reports show that 5 to 10 percent of all drug tests will show false positives. Conversely, 10 to 15 percent of drug screens will reveal false negatives.
False positives can be a result of laboratory errors. However, the presence of some medications in your body can also lead to inaccurate results. In this article, we’ll explore common questions and concerns regarding ibuprofen and false positive drug tests.
Ibuprofen and Drug Testing
Does Ibuprofen Show Up in Urine Drug Tests?
The simple answer is yes, ibuprofen can show up in a urine drug test. However, there is more to the story.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that is available over the counter for both children and adults. Seeing as this is a legal substance, there is no ibuprofen drug test. However, if you’ve taken ibuprofen before a urine test, you may get a positive result for THC, PCP, or barbiturates, even when you’ve not used any of these substances.
Needless to say, a false positive can lead to a variety of undesirable consequences ranging from loss of employment to suspension from sports, and even jail time.
Examination of Whether Ibuprofen Can Be Detected in Urine Drug Test
To understand if ibuprofen can be detected in a drug screen, we first need to explore how testing works.
The urine test is the most common type of drug screening. It can detect the presence of a variety of drugs in urine including:
- Prescription opiates such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone.
Immunoassay testing is widely used worldwide for the rapid screening of drugs. Immunoassays work by using antibodies to react to particular drug compounds. If the specific compound is available in a urine sample, it will react with an antibody and this results in a presumptive positive drug test.
One of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to immunoassays is cross-reactivity. Sometimes, drugs that are not being tested for will react with an antibody and therefore cause a false positive test. A high dose of ibuprofen may react similarly and cause an inaccurate drug test.
If an immunoassay yields a negative result, no further testing is required. However, in case of a positive drug test, secondary confirmatory testing – such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography – is used to verify the accuracy of the drug screen.
Factors Affecting the Detectability of Ibuprofen in Urine
Let’s explore some of the factors that will determine whether ibuprofen is picked up by a drug test or not.
For ibuprofen to show up on a drug test, you’d need to have ingested between 800 and 1200 mg in a day. This higher dose can interfere with the enzyme utilized during screening and lead to a false positive.
- Type of test
Urine drug tests can be classed into two major categories: immunoassay tests and gas or liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The former utilizes enzymes and is therefore prone to cross-reactivity which can lead to false positives. GC-MS and liquid chromatography tests are more precise and less likely to give inaccurate results.
Duration of Ibuprofen’s Presence in the System
How long does ibuprofen stay in your system?
Now that you’re familiar with ibuprofen and its impact on drug test results. it’s only natural to ask: How long does ibuprofen stay in your system?
Ibuprofen has a half-life of about 2 hours. It’s metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys via urine. Once ingested, this medicine and its compounds will be detectable in urine within two hours.
Although its effects will generally last for about 4 to 6 hours, it can take your body up to 24 hours to completely eliminate this substance.
So, how long does ibuprofen stay in your urine? Your urine may contain traces of this medication for up to 24 hours after last use.
Factors influencing the elimination rate of ibuprofen
Now that we’ve answered the question “How long will ibuprofen show up on a drug test?”, let’s explore factors influencing its elimination rate.
Just like with other drugs and medications, several factors affect how fast ibuprofen is removed from the body. Some are related to how you use the drug while others correspond to people’s bodies and how they process and metabolize ibuprofen.
Higher doses tend to increase the amount of time your body requires to eliminate a substance. It’ll take a significantly shorter time to eliminate 200mg of ibuprofen compared to 800 mg.
A high metabolism means a reduced plasma half-life and increased elimination rate. Conversely, a low metabolism means that it’ll take longer for ibuprofen to be eliminated from the body.
- Frequency of use
Prolonged use of a substance will result in a buildup of the drug compounds in the system. It’ll therefore take longer to completely eliminate the drug and its metabolites.
- Hydration level
Water is an underrated but effective solution when it comes to clearing toxins from the body. Just by paying attention to your hydration levels throughout the day, you can eliminate ibuprofen from your system faster.
- Kidney and liver function
The liver is the organ that is primarily responsible for metabolism while the kidney takes care of excretion. Dysfunction in either of these organs can drastically reduce the elimination of drug compounds and result in the buildup of residues.
Detection Time for Different Dosages
Ibuprofen comes in varying doses including 200mg, 300mg, 400mg, 600mg, and 800mg. So, how long does 400mg ibuprofen stay in your system?
Research shows that it takes 5 half-lives for a drug to be 97% eliminated. Ibuprofen has a half-life of about 2 hours. In theory, 10 hours should be sufficient time to eliminate most of the ingested ibuprofen. However, it’s not that straightforward.
Ibuprofen’s half-life will vary from person to person due to a range of patient-specific and drug-specific variables. Therefore, 24 hours is more widely accepted with regards to the amount of time your body requires to clear ibuprofen 400mg.
What about ibuprofen 800mg? How long does it take for 800mg of ibuprofen to leave your system? Doubling the dose of a drug increases the number of half-lives required to eliminate it by one. Therefore your body should be able to eliminate most of the ibuprofen’s residues within 12 hours. However, taking into account patient-specific factors, 24 hours is the more widely accepted duration.
Managing Ibuprofen in Drug Testing
Ibuprofen can interfere with test results forcing you to deal with the hassle of a false positive screen. So, is there anything you can do to eliminate it faster?
Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to flush ibuprofen out of your system.
Just like with any other toxins, water can increase the elimination rate of ibuprofen residues from the body. Rather than drink large amounts of water in a short span, it’s best to space your intake throughout the day. 8 to 10 glasses of water are adequate if you’re looking to flush out medicine residues from the body. Remember that too much water can result in water intoxication.
- Detox drinks
Detox drinks are designed to boost the rate at which the body eliminates toxins. You can use a quality detox drink before your drug screen for some added peace of mind.
Exercise and healthy eating can boost your metabolism and help your body break down ibuprofen at a faster rate.
Ibuprofen’s Drug Class and Side Effects
The Ibuprofen drug class is called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs, pronounced as (en-saids), are a family of medicines that treat mild to moderate pain, reduce inflammation, and lower fever. They work by blocking the production of molecules known as prostaglandins, which sensitize nerve endings causing pain and inflammation.
Most people are familiar with orally-administered ibuprofen, i.e. tablets, capsules, granules, or liquids. However, you can also opt for a gel, mousse, or spray version of ibuprofen that you apply to the skin instead.
Here are some of the most common ibuprofen side effects.
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty sleeping
With prolonged use or high doses, ibuprofen can irritate the stomach lining and cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. If you frequently experience symptoms like stomach pain and stomach upset, you may want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before opting for this medication.
NSAIDs and Drug Tests
To reiterate, ibuprofen belongs to a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.
While some NSAIDs are available over the counter, you’ll need a prescription for others. Here is a list of NSAID drugs.
Ibuprofen is one of the most common NSAIDs. This OTC drug is used to treat fever, inflammation, and pain resulting from headaches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and arthritis.
Popular brand names of this medication are Advil, Nuprin, and Motrin.
Like ibuprofen, Naproxen is an over-the-counter NSAID that is used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever.
Popular brand name carriers of Naproxen are Aleve and Naprosyn.
Oxaprazin is typically prescribed to treat the symptoms related to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Some brand names of medicines containing Oxaprozin include Daypro, Dayrun, and Duraprox.
Diclofenac is widely used for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is available under a range of trade names including Zipsor, Zorvolex, Cataflam, Cambia, and Voltaren.
Celecoxib belongs to a class of NSAIDs known as COX-2 inhibitors. It treats pain and inflammation while being more gentle on the stomach.
This prescription-only medication is available under brand names such as Celebrex and Elyxyb
Meloxicam is another COX-2 inhibitor that helps alleviate the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This drug is the generic version of Mobic and Vivlodex.
False Positive Concerns with NSAIDs
As we’ve already discussed, taking ibuprofen can result in a false positive during a drug screening. But what about other medications in the same drug class? Can NSAIDs cause false positive on drug test?
The short answer is yes. All NSAIDs can contribute to a positive drug test for THC, barbiturates, PCP, and even benzodiazepines. It’s advisable to steer clear of these medications if you have a pending drug test. NSAIDs alternatives such as aspirin and acetaminophen can ease your symptoms without jeopardizing your test results.
The urine test is the most common method of drug screening worldwide. However, immunoassay urine tests are prone to inaccurate results.
False positives occur when a drug screen comes back positive for a substance that you’ve not used. Over the years, high doses of ibuprofen have been shown to cause false positives for THC, barbiturates, and PCP.
If you’re expecting a drug test, especially a 5 panel drug test, you may want to refrain from taking ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. In case you’ve already consumed ibuprofen, you can try to flush it out of your system by staying hydrated or even drinking a detox drink.
If all this fails and you get a false positive drug result, be sure to request a confirmatory test such as the GC-MS or liquid spectrometry. These tests are more specific and accurate and they’ll identify the specific compound in question.