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Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen

Depending on your experience and background, when you have a headache, you might reach for Tylenol or Advil. What you may not realize is that they are very different medications, with different applications and side effects.

Ibuprofen is the main ingredient in Advil and is referred to as an NSAID – Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. It is recommended for headaches, fevers, and reducing inflammation that causes pain and discomfort.

Acetaminophen is the primary medication in Tylenol. It is an analgesic, which means that the drug relieves pain. Acetaminophen does very little for inflammation in the body and is best used for alleviating fevers and pain.

Deciding which medication to use can come down to your symptoms and your allergies. For muscle injuries, headaches, and infections, ibuprofen is the better choice. However, for gentle pain relief of arthritis and mild headaches, acetaminophen can be the answer. Some people are sensitive to ibuprofen, particularly to its antiplatelet effect. If your blood does not clot normally, your doctor may tell you not to take ibuprofen.

The side effects of the two drugs are vastly different. Acetaminophen has very few side effects and is well tolerated by most. Ibuprofen, however, can have more severe results, such as stomach ulcers, GI and bowel upset, and heartburn. So pay close attention to how you feel on both before deciding what will be your go-to medication for pain.

One of the major differences between the drugs is the risk associated with overdosing. Overdosing on over-the-counter drugs can be quite common, particularly for pain relief. While using too much ibuprofen is unlikely to be toxic, it does have significant symptoms.

Acetaminophen, on the other hand, carries an extreme risk of toxicity in the event you take too much. Overdoses can lead to acute liver failure and death. No matter which drug you ingest in excess, contact poison control immediately.

Both drugs have significant side effects that are worth considering. Suppose you don’t want to deal with those side effects – how do you deal with the pain?

For muscle and joint pain, alternative wellness practitioners suggest curcumin, which helps reduce an inflammatory response in the body. Other suggestions to investigate include capsaicin, fish oil, and even acupuncture.

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen have their place when pain and discomfort are making life miserable. Being aware of what each is best at – and what to look out for if they don’t work for you – allows you make an educated choice. Perhaps checking out alternatives that allow you to remain pain and drug free is worth the exploration.

What have been your experiences with these drugs? Do you use any alternative options that you find effective? We’d love to hear about them!

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