Severe hypokalaemia and weakness due to Nurofen misuse

Ann Clin Biochem. 2003 Jul;40(Pt 4):422-3. doi: 10.1258/000456303766477101.


Nephrotoxicity from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) is well recognized. We report a case of severe hypokalaemia and weakness due to renal tubular acidosis in a young woman who was taking 40-60 tablets per day of Nurofen Plus (ibuprofen 200 mg and codeine phosphate 12.8 mg). Proprietary brands of ibuprofen are freely available to the public and those containing codeine may be potentially subject to abuse. This case highlights the need to be aware of this potential and of the life-threatening electrolyte and acid-base disturbances that might be encountered with the widespread availability of these types of NSAID.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Renal Tubular / chemically induced*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / poisoning*
  • Codeine / poisoning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypokalemia / chemically induced*
  • Ibuprofen / poisoning*
  • Muscle Weakness / chemically induced*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Codeine
  • Ibuprofen