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Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the two most frequently used over-the-counter medications. Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen are commonly used for usual health complaints such as toothache, headache and muscle pain. However, differences between these two medications make each to be more appropriate for use in different cases. In this article we will discuss characteristics of ibuprofen and acetaminophen and indications for their use.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Acetaminophen or paracetamol is generic name for Tylenol and Excedrin. Ibuprofen is known by trade names Advil and Motrin. Both medications are analgesics and antipyretics.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen Uses

Acetaminophen is mainly used to relive pain and alleviate symptoms of fever. Ibuprofen is used for the same purpose but, unlike acetaminophen, it also posses anti-inflammatory qualities. Acetaminophen is available in a form of tablets, suppositories, liquid suspension, gelcaps and geltabs. Ibuprofen comes in a form of tablets, chewable tablets, oral drops, suspensions and capsules. Most health care providers recommend ibuprofen instead of acetaminophen if a patient has to use pain killers for prolonged period of time. Acetaminophen should not be used for longer than 10 days. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are indicated for aches and pains caused by different conditions. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are commonly used for migraines, arthritis and menstrual cramps. In case of traumatic injuries, both pain relievers can be prescribed in higher doses. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be also used for relieving pain caused by gout and psoriasis.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen Side Effects

Both medications act by relieving pain and reducing fever. However, medical experts regard acetaminophen as milder painkiller and with less side effects comparing to ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is safe for children, pregnant women and people with digestive problems. On the other hand, ibuprofen has a stronger action and may cause stomach irritation as well as bleeding of stomach ulcers. Side effects of acetaminophen are rare. Still, if acetaminophen is taken in large doses or in combination with alcohol it can lead to a liver damage. This pain reliever may also interact with blood thinning medication warfarin. Ibuprofen is less rough on the digestive system comparing to Aspirin. Also, among non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ibuprofen is the safest for long-term use. However, prolonged use of ibuprofen increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Common side effects associated with ibuprofen are: dizziness, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. Allergic reaction to ibuprofen may occur in people with asthma. Ibuprofen interacts with lithium and gentamicin. Since ibuprofen thins the blood, it should not be taken along with anticoagulants such as warfarin.

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