Painkillers making me sick

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/1/2009 11:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi people,

I am a long-time migraine sufferer and have been taking 2 Nurofen Plus tablets (200mg ibuprofen, 12.8mg codeine phosphate each) for years whenever I feel one coming on.

Lately, however, if I take a couple of these, I will get bad nausea for two or three days afterwards. At first my GP thought it may be some damage to my stomach lining (since I did not always take them with food), but now he thinks maybe I have somehow developed an intolerance to ibuprofen. Seems to me like the diagnosis is kind of hit and miss.

I am pretty stressed about it because the Nurofen Plus is the only thing I have found that keeps my migraines under control, and if I can't take them anymore I don't know how I will manage. I am very keen to figure out exactly what is going on.

Has anyone else had a similar experience like this? I'm not even sure if it is the ibuprofen or the codeine that is causing it. I could try scientific trial and error, but the idea of self-induced nausea and more days off work does not appeal to me.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 8/2/2009 12:13 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, joshcp,
Welcome to the chronic pain forum of Healing Well. It is frustrating to have a medication that helps our symptoms, but then may cause other side effects, which may require we find another option.

We're not doctors here and can't give medical advice, so the best I can tell you is to work closely with your doctor. Seeing a pain management specialist might be beneficial, though, so that you can find safe options that are effective. One thing I do know is that both ibuprofen and codeine can be hard on the stomach. If you have been taking them awhile, it's possible they've caused some type of problem. I would suggest referrals to specialists if your GP can't determine a more specific cause. And in the meantime follow any of your doctor's or pharmacist's advice especially if they're suggesting to take it with food.

A few years ago I used to take a lot of ibuprofen, and then my stomach just starting hurting whenever I did, so I had to stop. I can now take some occasionally, but they have to be the liquid gel tablets, and even then I only do it once in awhile.

Maybe someone else who suffers with migraines will have some other suggestions.

Again, welcome.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 8/2/2009 12:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Josh,
First off, welcome to Healing Well! PA gave you some good advice. another option you might want to consider is going to a Headache Clinic (there are a number of them throughout the country). There are so many options these days for treating migraines -- preventative meds, abortive meds, different types of massage, acupuncture, injections, radio frequency nerve ablation, neurostimulators ... I'm sure you're starting to get the idea; I just don't want you to think that b/c you've tried a dozen or so meds & certain non-pharmacological treatments that there's nothing else out there for you.

I used to get migraines for many years & when the med I had been using suddenly started causing severe side effects, I had to go off it. But after several tries of new meds & adding in craio-sacral therapy (a type of massage), plus a topical pain reliever, the migraines were back under control. A couple of years later when the new treatment wasn't much helping any more, I was able to successfully switch back to the original med without all the problem side effects. Hang in there! They're bound to find something to help you -- and in the meantime feel free to post here whenever you're looking for extra support. :)

Moderator -- Depression Forum

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16412
   Posted 8/2/2009 1:25 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi Josh,

Welcome to Healing Well. I am so sorry that you are having such problems with your medicines for the migraines. Wow, those things can be so debilitating. I have them, and unfortunately passed them to both of my children.

I see that PaLady and Frances popped on and gave you some input and I really do not have much else to add other than alot of sympathy. I have suffered alot with migraines and know the boat you are in. I cannot take any of the medications on the market that are for migraines because of an allergic reaction to one of the meds that is in all migraine medications. My dr rx's me Stadol in nose spray form and it knocks me out and when I wake up the migraine is gone. At this time this is the only way we know to handle them. I use to go to the office for a shot which was ok, except they are not open 24/7. I am just glad the Stadol comes in nose spray form.

I do hope your dr can come up with a plan that helps you. Hang in there and again welcome aboard.

Moderator Chronic Pain
crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & decreased circulation in both legs. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 16 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 554
   Posted 8/2/2009 2:46 AM (GMT -6)   
tell your dr you are having nausea. i always get a script for phenegran and there is a med called reglan that works every time for me. the phenegran is a suppository form incase its so bad i can't get my pills down. your dr should be able to just call those in for you. hope you feel better soon.... i know its an uncomfortable side effect, i lost 40 lbs in 3 months from it. all i wanted was vanilla ice cream, its the only thing that tasted good. hope you feel better soon!
RX's: Pain  Pump (morphine & baclofen on next round); Oxycontin 80mg 2x's daily; Dilaudid 8 mgs 4x day; Zanaflex 4mg 3x's daily; Lyrica 100mg 3x's daily (pain & fibro.); Phenergan 25mg (as needed/nausea); Reglan 10 mg. (30 minutes before meal/nausea); Cymbalta 60mg 2x's daily (pain from fibro); Lorazepam 1mg (bedtime); Bentyl 25 mg 2xs daily; Prilosec 30mg. & Senokot (as needed).
"The most critical choice you'll ever make is the one you make about what you're going to do with this. The past is over. The future hasn't happened yet. The only time is now."
- Dr. Phil

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 8/2/2009 11:30 AM (GMT -6)   

I have chronic migraines - so does my husband and my oldest son. Not fun. I can't believe how debilitating a headache can be.

I've never heard of the medicine you take. I do know that codeine on it's own can cause lots of stomach issues (nausea/vomiting) in some people. I can't take it because it makes me really sick to my stomach.

If I can get in two extra strength Excedrin at the VERY on-set of a headache, sometimes that works. Otherwise, it's my normal pain medicine... If that doesn't work, I have to go in for IV pain/nausea medicine to break the cycle.

Re: nausea, I have a script for the Phenergan suppositories (I know, fun stuff...).... I don't care, though - it works, and I couldn't make it w/out them. Phenergan also comes in oral form; there's also Reglan, Zofran, Anzemet, etc. Talk w/ your doctor....

Feel better; let us know how you are doing...
I'm a Christian wife and mom to six boys, ages 5, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 14... I've been ill/disabled since my last child was born in 2004...

Chronic Pain Issues: Severe neck/back pain; chronic migraines; carpal tunnel syndrome; widespread joint/muscle pain, burning nerve pain in hands, arms, feet
Diagnosed with: POTS/dysautonomia (heart condition, nervous system disorder that has my whole body out of whack: heart rate, breathing, pain issues, body temperature issues, etc); CFS/Fibromyalgia; Severe Hypertension; Hypothyroidism; Addison's Disease; Central Sleep Apnea etc etc
Meds: MS Contin (480mg daily); MSIR (15mg/6x day); Soma (3x day); Atenolol; Midodrine; Phenergan; Effexor and on the list goes...
Past Meds: I've been on every pain med there is... Oxys, Dilaudid, Duragesic patches, Actiq, Fentora, Methadone and so on... I've also tried almost every muscle relaxer, nerve meds, sleep meds, etc.
Future Plans: Intrathecal Pain Pump; already completed trial; awaiting my decision for implantation

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 3089
   Posted 8/2/2009 12:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Josh,

Welcome to HW! You might want to talk with your doctor about trying an antacid to try to help protect your stomach. I know that I for one am very sensitive to ibuprofen & other NSAIDs. They always cause me stomach problems. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, are well know to cause these stomach issues, and even ulcers, especially when taken for long periods of time or at high doses (the food helps coat your stomach & thus reduce the risk). Taking an antacid before taking the ibuprofen might help. I've had to do this many times. Sometimes it also helps to try this when you have nausea, even if it isn't from the direct action of NSAIDs. There are many proton-pump inhibiting antacids out there, even some over the counter. Prilosec OTC can be purchased from any pharmacy & it works well.

Best of luck! I hope you start feeling better soon!


Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 8/2/2009 1:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Migraines are plainly aweful, I get occular migraines and will lose my vision before the migraine starts,
lucky the vision loss doesn't last long, there are newer meds that target migraines, and I agree with the
others in that maybe a headache center or neurologist could help you better. I take dolgic plus for my
migraines and it helps me, my daughter used imitrex and either motrin or tylenol, so go to a good doctor
first either the headache centers or a neurologist, maybe an up to date mri of your head could also help...
well wishes to you and lots and lots of soft hugz
I see a neurologist once a year....
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc, Fibromyalgia, Gerd,
Enlarged Pituitary Gland, Sjogren's and Ocular Migraines


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