Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, generally referred to as "NSAIDs". This is the generic name for brands such as Advil, Motrin and others.
These drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. They work by reducing the levels of prostaglandins, chemicals that are responsible for pain, fever, and inflammation.
Ibuprofen was patented in 1961 as a result of research in the 1950s and 1960s to find a safer alternative to aspirin. In the early 1980s, it became the first NSAID alternative to aspirin to become available over the counter.
NSAIDs reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys, which may impair their function. The impairment is most likely to occur in patients with preexisting impairment of kidney function or congestive heart failure, and use of NSAIDs in these patients should be done cautiously.
NSAIDs also reduce the ability of blood to clot and therefore are likely to increase bleeding after an injury.
NSAIDs increase the risk of potentially fatal, stomach and intestinal adverse reactions (for example, bleeding, ulcers, and perforation of the stomach or intestines). Sometimes, stomach ulceration and intestinal bleeding can occur without any abdominal pain. Black tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing may be the only signs of the bleeding.
NSAIDs, except low dose aspirin, may increase the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks, stroke, and related conditions. This risk may increase with duration of use and in patients who have underlying risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease. Therefore, NSAIDs should not be used for the treatment of pain resulting from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
Higher doses of Ibuprofen are available by prescription. You could also just take more pills at once (but you shouldn't do that).
This description is adapted from information sources found online, and is in no way meant to replace or substitute for professional medical advice. If you are in pain, or considering taking this or any other medicine, contact your medical professional for assistance rather than using the internet as your sole source of information.
My Personal Experience
As you can buy Ibuprofen over the counter just about anywhere - airports, convenience stores, discount stores, drug stores, grocery stores, hotel shops, etc - you can take care of what ails you almost whenever you need.
My own experience is that it just depends on what is bothering me, but it is almost always a headache. I like to tell people my brain continues to grow, but at this point, I don't think that anyone believes me.
The instructions typically say to take 1 tablet (200mg) every 4-6 hours, not to exceed 6 (1200mg) in a 24 hour period, but I usually need 2 (400mg). In extreme cases, I may need 3 (600mg) or even 4 (800mg), because knocking it out quickly is often better than hanging on without much effect, but ultimately you really need to take care not to exceed the amount you take over the course of a day.