Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen


Acetaminophen versus Ibuprofen:
Compare the medications


Both Acetaminophen and Ibuprophen are pain relievers, though they act differently.

Acetaminophen is an antipyretic. It means that it reduces fever and the body's temperature (pyre is an old Greek for fire, i.e. high temperature). So, the analgetic effects are achieved by lowering the temperature which is too high because of illness in the body.

Ibuprofen fights inflammation in the body and muscles - inflammation that causes pain. It belongs to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and it does not reduce fever. A popular assertion that Ibuprofen has better antipyretic properties than Acetaminophen means that it is especially effective against inflammation, and by reducing inflammation it reduces the body's temperature. We just do away with the source of fever.


Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen: what to choose?

Inflammation almost always means higher temperature (flames are fire, too...). But high temperature is not always a result of inflammation. So, if you feel pain without inflammation, Ibuprofen is useless for you. If you suffer from high temperature that is not caused by inflammation, Ibuprofen will not help you either. On the other hand, when you are sure that your pain is caused by inflammation, you should probably decide in favor of Ibuprofen, as Acetaminophen is not a very potent pain-killer. You should know the source of pain before using any of these two medications. In general, Ibuprofen works better for sore muscles or general body aches, rheumatism and arthritis, and Acetaminophen is more commonly used for headaches. Acetaminophen is also may be used  for relieving the symptoms of allergies, common cold and cough.

But the problem of Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen seems to be more complicated than this. The matter is that Ibuprofen irritates stomach and may be dangerous for patients suffering from ulcer or gastroesophogeal reflux disease (that is why it should always be taken with some food to prevent any gastric issues). Also, Ibuprofen can provoke bleeding and prevent fractures and injured tissues from healing. Long-term (two weeks, or more) use of Ibuprofen in high doses damages kidneys. Moreover, patients with weak kidneys may experience dangerous adverse effects even when Ibuprofen is taken in small doses. Long term use of Acetaminophen in high doses is no good for kidneys either, however, Acetaminophen is more harmful for the liver, especially in higher doses, and people who have problems with the liver should avoid using Acetaminophen. Individual response to the treatment should be taken into account, too. Though Acetaminophen is a weaker analgetic than Ibuprofen, some people get more relief from Acetaminophen than Ibuprofen.

You should normally avoid using Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen together as their combination does not provide any superior analgesic effect, and possible side effects may be worsened. However, they sometimes may be taken by turns but you have to keep a careful schedule of dosages taken at proper intervals in order not to overlap the medications.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are marketed under various brand names throughout the world.

To help you compare these two medications, we summarized their most significant features in the following table.


Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen

Generic names

Acetaminophen, Paracetamol

Ibuprofen

Some popular brand names


Tylenol, Panadol, Excedrin, Anacin-3, Tempra, Gelpirin, Genapap, Genebs, Datril, Feverall

Motrin, Advil, Genpril, Haltran, IBU, Menadol, Midol


Metabolized by

The liver

The kidneys

Effects

Analgetic,
fever reducing

Analgetic, anti-inflammatory

Used for

Mild to moderate pain and fever; allergic reactions; cold & cough symptoms; headaches; toothaches

Mild to moderate pain; imflammation, swelling; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; backaches; headaches; toothaches; the common cold

Maximum dose

1000 mg at a time;
4000 mg daily

800 mg at a time;
3200 mg daily

Some possible adverse effects (more serious ones)

Abdominal pain; hypersensitivity reaction; skin rashes; itching; nausea; changes in blood; easy bruising; bleeding gums; allergic reactions

Stomach pain; gastrointestinal bleeding; unexplained weight gain; rash, itching; hives; nausea; blisters; swelling of  the face, throat, hands of feet; heartbeat; allergic reactions

Cautions

High doses can cause liver damage, especially if combined with alcohol. The medication should be avoided by patients who have serious liver of kidney problems.

Be careful if you have one of these: a stomach or intestinal disorder; liver or kidney disease; asthma and nasal polyps; heart failure; angioedema. The medication should not be used together with aspirin, alcohol or steroids.



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