There are a few things to touch on here:
- Is there a difference between ibuprofen tablets and liquid-capsules?
- What is the maximum daily dosage of ibuprofen and does the product form (e.g. tablets, capsules) matter in this regard?
I'll answer these separately for you.
Tablets Vs. Liquid Capsules
There haven't been many studies evaluating the differences between ibuprofen dosage forms (e.g. tablets, liquid capsules, suspension, etc...).
The ones that have been completed usually report that there are no significant differences between them.
For example, one study, evaluating ibuprofen in its effectiveness for treating dental pain, reported the following:
"Both soluble and tablet formulations of ibuprofen provide effective pain control in the early postoperative period after removal of impacted third molars. There is little analgesic advantage in increasing the dose to 600 mg and only minimal benefit from using a soluble formulation of the drug."
Other studies do, however, report that some patients will experience a faster onset of analgesia (i.e. pain-relief) with soluble forms of ibuprofen (e.g. liquid capsules, suspensions) when compared to the tablets. Here is an excerpt from another study on the matter:
"...soluble ibuprofen 400 mg provided an earlier onset of pain relief (20 minutes) than ibuprofen tablets (30 minutes). The earlier onset of action may be clinically important, since it is during this time that patients usually experience their highest levels of postoperative pain."
It makes sense that ibuprofen liquid capsules may work faster at providing pain relief than the tablets since it is in a form that is more easily absorbed.
The overall point though is that there isn't a huge difference between the two. Both will take around 20 to 30 minutes to start working.
Maximum Daily Dose
The recommended maximum daily dose of ibuprofen varies depending on whether you are taking it over-the-counter or via a prescription (under your physician's supervision).
For over the counter ibuprofen, the maximum daily dose is 1,200 mg (or six of the 200 mg tablets/liquid capsules). This is stated on the product packaging:
The maximum daily dose of prescription ibuprofen is higher, 3,200 mg per day.
Taking ibuprofen has its risks. Long term and/or the use of high doses is associated with several serious side effects, including an increased risk of cardiovascular complications (e.g. heart attack and stroke) and kidney dysfunction.
The maximum daily dose of over the counter ibuprofen is lower than prescription since that is deemed (relatively) safe for self-treatment. Higher doses should only be used under the supervision of your doctor as they can properly evaluate the risk and benefits of use.
Product form (e.g. liquid capsules, tablets) has no bearing on the recommended maximum daily doses.
It is important to remember that over the counter ibuprofen is only available in 200 mg in solid dosage forms while you can get it in 400, 600 or 800 mg tablets via a prescription.
If your doctor has recommended that you take ibuprofen over the counter in doses over 1,200 mg per day, that is fine, you will just need to take more 200 mg tablets.
There maximum daily dose recommendations aren't in place due to any difference in over the counter and prescription versions of ibuprofen (they are the same exact drug) but are rather in place for the reason described above (that you should not exceed 1,200 for self-treatment due to the risks of the drug).
Most studies indicate there is no significant difference in the effectiveness between ibuprofen tablets and liquid capsules. However, liquid capsules may work slightly faster than other solid formulations, like tablets. The maximum daily dose of ibuprofen for use over the counter is 1,200 mg per day. The maximum daily dose of ibuprofen for prescription use is 3,200 mg per day.
- Evaluation of different doses of soluble ibuprofen and ibuprofen tablets in postoperative dental pain. PubMed
- Advil Packaging. Pfizer
- Onset of analgesia for liquigel ibuprofen 400 mg, acetaminophen 1000 mg, ketoprofen 25 mg, and placebo in the treatment of postoperative dental pain. PubMed
- An evaluation of different ibuprofen preparations in the control of postoperative pain after third molar surgery. PubMed