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Friday, August 30, 2013

What's the Difference Between Aspirin, Non-Aspirin and Ibuprofen?

If you think all pain relievers are the same, think again. All pain relievers fall into different drug categories and each one works in different ways to relieve pain. Here is a brief description of the three primary pain relievers.


Aspirin is the oldest over-the-counter pain reliever on the market. Technically, aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid and is good for minor aches and pains and inflammation. But, as its name suggests, the acid can be harsh on the stomach. It also thins the blood, which is good for heart disease but not good for hemophiliacs (bleeders). It has also been linked to cause Reyes syndrome in children. Reyes syndrome is a potentially fatal disease that can damage to the brain, liver and kidneys.


Ibuprofen is iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid. It is considered a non-aspirin pain reliever and falls into the category of a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Like aspirin, ibuprofen is used for pain, fever reduction and swelling due to inflammation. Unlike aspirin, ibuprofen is easier on the stomach. It is also a milder anticoagulant, which means it will not thin the blood as much as aspirin. Ibuprofen is most commonly used for pain due to arthritis, headache, tooth pain and inflammation. Examples of ibuprofen include Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin. Ibuprofen is good at reducing inflammation.


Acetaminophen is also a non-aspirin pain reliever. Like ibuprofen, acetaminophen is good for fever, aches and pains. But acetaminophen does not reduce inflammation. In large doses, acetaminophen can damage the liver. On the plus side, it is milder on the stomach than ibuprofen so you can take it without food. The common form of acetaminophen is Tylenol.

So, before you pop a pill for pain, make sure the pain reliever you take is the right one for you. Also be sure to read the instructions and take only the recommended amount.
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