Types of aspirin brands

Compare Pain Relievers

Example brands

Aspirin: Bayer® Extra Strength
Ibuprofen: Motrin® IB, Advil®

Are these NSAIDs? (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Aspirin: Yes
Ibuprofen: Yes

Uses

Aspirin and ibuprofen are both used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to:

  • headache

  • muscle pain

  • minor pain of arthritis

  • toothache

  • the common cold*

  • menstrual cramps

Ibuprofen is also used to temporarily reduce fever and relieve minor aches and pains due to backache.

Remember! Even if you’re in a lot of pain, it’s not safe to take more medicine than the label says. And not all pain relievers are appropriate for everyone. Consider your health conditions.

*Aspirin’s Drug Facts Label indicates that aspirin, “temporarily relieves pain and fever of colds”

Can I take these at the same time?

Taking more than one NSAID at a time increases your risk of stomach bleeding.

Additionally, if you take aspirin to help protect against heart attack or stroke, ibuprofen can decrease aspirin’s heart health benefits.

Take ONLY 1 medicine that contains an NSAID at a time.

Important warnings

Aspirin and Ibuprofen: If you take more than directed or for longer than directed, the risk of stomach bleeding increases.

This is not a full list of warnings. Check the Drug Facts label on your medicine’s carton for a full list of warnings. Download and save a guide to Drug Facts labels.

Dosage directions

It is not safe to apply the dosing directions from one NSAID to another. Download and save this OTC pain reliever dosage chart to ensure you take these pain relievers safely.

Aspirin: For your safety, do not take more than 4,000 mg in 24 hours.

Ibuprofen: For your safety, do not take more than 1,200 mg in 24 hours.

What is the difference between Aspirin, Tylenol and Ibuprofen?

Having patients come into our clinic with headaches, back aches, and whole body pain, one question that most people will ask is: “What is the difference between Aspirin, Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and what should I take?”

Well, I’ve done all the hard research for you and condensed it into this little blog for you.

Aspirin, sold as Bayer or Bufferin, is absorbed into the bloodstream and essentially looks for areas where we feel pain. Aspirin is used to treat headaches of all sizes, to suppress minor body aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation when we’re sore. But it’s rough on the upper digestive tract (can cause upset stomach, heartburn, and even dyspepsia), it’s bad for hemophiliacs, and it’s not safe for kids.

Ibuprofen, sold as Motrin or Advil, is chemically similar to regular aspirin and functions in a similar way. In lower doses, ibuprofen seems to irritate the esophagus and stomach lining less than aspirin and naproxen. If you have ulcers or acid reflux disease, ibuprofen may be the best product for pain clearly resulting from inflammation (arthritis, sprains, sunburns, etc.).

Naproxen, sold as Aleve, is especially effective as an anti-inflammatory agent. For arthritis, sprains, sunburns, and other inflammation-based pain, naproxen seems to edge its competition. Many women suffering from menstrual cramps also report that naproxen is more effective than standard aspirin. Also, similar doses of this over-the-counter pain reliever tend to last longer, often for 8-12 hours instead of 4-8 hours.

Acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol, lowers fevers and soothes headaches effectively, but it is not an anti-inflammatory substance. As a result, it won’t do much for arthritis or sprains. It is less irritating to the lining of the stomach, making it the best headache treatment for people with acid reflux disease, ulcers, and the like.

Be aware that because its usual dosage for pain relief and its overdose amount are not incredibly different, some doctors consider acetaminophen to be more dangerous than aspirin, arguing that it is easier to overdose unintentionally which can cause kidney and liver failure leading to death. It is among the most overdosed drugs in the world. You should not take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen a day. There is no home treatment for an overdose. Always seek professional medical help immediately.

As an alternative health care professional, I don’t usually like to recommend the use of these over-the-counter drugs. In my opinion, however, do whatever you have to do to get through your day, but I would highly suggest trying a less invasive type of treatment such as chiropractic or herbal supplementation instead.

Which One Should I Take? How To Choose Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

When you’re looking for an over-the-counter pain reliever, a walk through your local pharmacy is bound to give you headache. With so many choices and brands it can get confusing, so here are the basics.

Pain Reliever: Aspirin

OTC Brands: Bayer, Ecotrin

Aspirin is a good general analgesic, meaning it relieves pain. It’s great for anything that hurts: headaches, muscle aches, joint pains, and fevers.

People with stomach or colon bleeding should never take aspirin. Also, it should never be given to children.

“There’s a rare incidence of something called Reye’s Syndrome, which is a very serious disease that can be caused by aspirin in kids,” says Bertie M. Bregman, MD, of Westside Family Medicine in New York City.

Over-the-counter brands include Bayer and Ecotrin, or you can just buy a generic bottle of aspirin, which is often less expensive.

“I would say that there’s no discernible advantage to brand-name over generic aspirin, so you might as well just look to see what the dosage is and if it’s the same. Go for whichever is cheaper,” Dr. Bregman says.

Pain Reliever: Acetaminophen

OTC Brand: Tylenol

Acetaminophen is also an analgesic, like aspirin, so it’s commonly used for headaches and pain. But since this is not an anti-inflammatory substance, it won’t do much for muscles or sprains.

Bregman says anyone with liver problems should stay away from acetaminophen and be careful when giving it to babies.

“We commonly prescribe acetaminophen for babies,” Bregman says. “There’s some emerging data showing a possible association between acetaminophen use and the development of asthma. That might be a reason to limit our use of acetaminophen. I think that it’s still a very valuable drug in kids to decrease fevers primarily, but also for pain control. I still use it commonly but along the general theory that you should always be careful about using any medication and only use it when you have to. I avoid it when I don’t have to use it because I’m waiting to hear more about this association.”

Pain Reliever: Ibuprofen

OTC Brands: Advil, Motrin

Ibuprofen is primarily used as an analgesic for headaches, and joint and muscle pain. It lowers fever and works as well as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also safe for children.

Anyone with kidney problems should stay away from ibuprofen.

Pain Reliever: Naproxen Sodium

OTC Brands: Aleve, some forms of Midol

This drug helps with headaches, and joint and muscle pain. It’s especially effective as an anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis, sprains, sunburns, menstrual cramps, and other inflammation-based pain.

“The main reason to choose naproxen over ibuprofen or aspirin is that it’s longer lasting, so you don’t have to take it as frequently. It lasts longer in your system,” says Bregman.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are all part of the same class of medications, known as NSAIDs, so they should never be combined. It is possible to take acetaminophen with these three, without worrying about side effects. If you’re ever unsure of what to pick, the pharmacist is always a good resource. Remember if over-the-counter medicines aren’t working, be sure to speak to your doctor or health care provider.

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Few experiences are more of a nuisance than realizing, mid-headache, the ibuprofen bottle is empty, sending you straight to the pharmacy aisle in the grocery store and face-to-face with a lineup of brands that all seem to do the same thing.

But that’s just it: Do they all do the same thing?

Eager for a definitive answer, we reached out to Emily Hajjar, associate professor of pharmacy at Jefferson University’s College of Pharmacy.

What is the difference between buying generic, store-brand ibuprofen and, say, Advil? Is there a significant difference?

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From a medication or therapeutic medicine standpoint, there really is no difference between the brand-name and generic products. I think that, to the consumer, the biggest issue the consumer will face is price, and that can be an over-the-counter or prescription item. Because over the counter, it’s obviously coming out of your dollars, and in a prescription, it’s a copay. But therapeutically, there’s not a ton of difference between a brand-name and generic drug.

I’ve read there’s an efficacy threshold that determines whether the generic can qualify as an equivalent. Is that true?

Yes, when they do studies to show how well it dissolves or how much you get into your body, it has to be plus or minus 20 percent. It has to be close but not hugely different.

There are some drugs that are what we call ‘narrow therapeutic drugs,’ which means a tiny movement might make a big difference in the patient. With that, the brand could make a difference, but something like Tylenol, over the counter, you’re going to get the same benefit generally and won’t be able to tell.

That’s a good point. I guess there might be a difference if it’s something especially sensitive, like mood?

One drug that would be tricky to switch from name-brand to generic is sensory products, or something to supplement your thyroid…Sometimes people, how they absorb those drugs, they can be really finicky. A tiny level change might impact the patient–and it’s not that we ever say ‘Don’t take the generic drug,’ we say, ‘Take one form of the drug and stick with it.’ And get your levels monitored. Don’t go back and forth between them. But Tylenol or Advil, I bet no one can tell the difference between a brand-name Advil or generic ibuprofen.

I’ve heard some generics will throw in additives, like caffeine. Any truth to that?

No, they generally don’t add any more active ingredients and caffeine would be an active ingredient. The formulation can change, the constituents of the tablet, but those things are inert. It might be a different binding agent but it won’t have any impact on you. Generally, if you’re changing active ingredients you’re changing the product, and that’s not acceptable.

Does this apply to vitamins, too?

Those I’d say are generally the same thing , whether you choose the brand name or generic. The one thing I’m not sure of–when talking about herbal products, those aren’t necessarily regulated anyway so we’re not sure what’s in the capsule. A company may say it’s and it may not be.

I’d say take what agrees with your body, the generic formulation, and what you can afford.

The cost of drugs is always a hot-button issue. What efforts are being made right now?

So the laws say the pharmacist can substitute a generic. Let’s say a prescription is written for a brand-name item; you can substitute the generic and that’s generally how those things work. That’s the legal way to do it. Sometimes patients say ‘My prescription says Advil, I wanted brand-name ibuprofen,’ and that’s your right to have that. But you’ll pay a lot more money. So, that is one of the ways the world is controlling cost, is to switch over to generics if they can.

Another way we’re controlling costs, or trying to, is let’s say there are multiple different types of drugs in the same category and some are generic and some brand-name. We often say you have to try a generic product before you can get a brand-name product. ‘Let’s try that and see if it works for you,’ and if it doesn’t and there’s proof, we’ll give the higher, more expensive medication. That’s two ways we’re doing a somewhat OK job of controlling costs.

What do patients tend to complain about?

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Oh, I think they may complain they didn’t know they’re getting a generic and find it startling, and ‘Does it work just as well?’ ‘My doctor used this term and you’re giving me ibuprofen.’ It’s so intuitive for a prescriber to go back and forth between them, and sometimes we don’t realize the patients don’t know and that can be scary to them when they’re expecting a different name. And that we could do a much better job with, because we want them to know what the pharmacist is giving them is just as good.

Is it hard to build a language around medication when mixing in all these different names for generics, and brands, etc.? Building a universal language for one medication when it has three names?

Yeah, I think it is very hard to do that. I think those of us who work with–I work with a lot of seniors, and I really try go to the extra lengths if I’m writing something down for them, to put the brand and generic name and, even when speaking with them, I try to use both names–Tylenol and acetaminophen. But I think unless you’re really cognizant of it, it’s so innate to healthcare professionals, it’s hard to know we’re not all speaking the same language. You can weave it in.

General tips as people peruse the aisle in the grocery store or pharmacy?

I personally use generic myself. I don’t pay for the label or the fancy name. Generally, we put the generics right next to the brand name, so they can always find the branded products and I tell people to look to the left, or right, or up or down on the shelves near it to compare the brand–truly, from generic to brand-name. I think people get overwhelmed trying to find the generic but it is supposed to be closely located. And always be sure to ask someone.

Viewed from a single moment in time, this debate can appear intractable, whether it concerns the pros and cons of generic steroids in 1961 or generic epilepsy medications in 2014. Viewed over time, however, conflicts over generic drugs form a shifting historical dialectic of similarity and difference. Consider the case of Parke-Davis’ blockbuster drug Chloromycetin, which in 1966 was one of the first broad-spectrum antibiotics to go off patent and face generic competition. To a host of consumer advocates and policymakers in the federal government, the chemically equivalent generic versions offered a remarkable opportunity to rein in the increasing amount of taxpayer dollars that, since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid two years earlier, were now being spent on brand-name drugs. To executives at Parke-Davis, generic competition meant the potentially disastrous loss of market share for their flagship product.

When generic Chloromycetin capsules emerged on the market, however, one of these newer and cheaper products did not dissolve in water. Further testing in human subjects (euphemistically labeled volunteers) at a series of military bases and prisons showed that some of these capsules passed through the human digestive tract completely unabsorbed. Even though these products had proven to be the same according to a series of stringent tests of chemical equivalence, they were not the same in their effects on the human body. In response, the FDA pulled the generic versions from the market and instituted a new proof of biological equivalence, requiring any generic version of this drug to demonstrate that it would be absorbed into the bloodstream of patients. A year later, a newer, bioequivalent generic version of Chloromycetin was approved by the FDA, and bioequivalence has since worked its way into the matrix of proofs required to sell all generic drugs in the United States.

Generic drugs are not marketed as identical to the brand but as the same in all ways that matter. They are allowed to be different from the brand name versions in some respects—in their price, color, size, shape, place of manufacture, the specific dyes used to create them, the filling agents that they contain, the chemical binders that hold their active components together, or the lacquered coatings that they employ—but key to their approval and marketing is the claim that the differences are trivial and the similarities are substantial. As the case of Chloromycetin reminds us, however, our understanding of what is trivial and what is significant in medical sciences is a moving target, a contested form of knowledge that emerges at the interface of interested claims to similarity and difference.

To speak of the chemistry or the biology of equivalence is to name only two of the many possible metrics of similarity and difference that emerge in contests over generic drugs. New sciences of similarity and difference continue to proliferate, and have only become more urgent as generic drugs have grown from roughly 10 percent of all drugs prescribed in 1960 to more than 80 percent of all drugs prescribed in 2010. The FDA has recently expanded funding for new regulatory sciences of generic similarity, with the understanding that new forms of potential difference continue to emerge, requiring new proofs of similarity. Should a different standard of proof be used to prove the similarity of high-stakes drugs (such as immunosuppressants and antiseizure medications) for populations (such as transplant recipients and persons living with epilepsy) for whom a single botched dosage could entail loss of livelihood or life? What new proofs can provide confidence that copies of large and complex biotech drugs are the same as the original versions when the precise molecular structure of the original drugs is not fully knowable?

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid – ASA)

What is aspirin?

Aspirin is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fevers. Aspirin is also available in prescription medicines in combination with other ingredients. It is part of a group of pain relievers and fever reducers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Aspirin can be found in single-ingredient oral pain relievers and fever reducers or in medicines that contain more than one active ingredient to treat migraines. It is also available in medicines that treat symptoms such as heartburn and upset stomach, occasional sleeplessness, migraines, or the multiple symptoms of the common cold.

In March 2019, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) updated their guidelines for prevention of cardiovascular disease. There is no change to the recommendations for aspirin in preventing a second heart attack or stroke. If you have not experienced a previous cardiac event, the new guidelines provide more precise criteria to help healthcare providers and patients to better determine, together, if and when aspirin therapy is appropriate. Consumers taking OTC aspirin should always read and follow directions on the Drug Facts label, and the ACC strongly advises people to always speak with their physician before stopping any aspirin regimen.

What is aspirin used to treat?

  • Minor aches and pains
  • Fevers
  • Heartburn and upset stomach
  • Migraines
  • Symptoms associated with the common cold
Common brands containing aspirin:
  • Alka-Seltzer®
  • Anacin®
  • Bayer® Aspirin
  • BC® Powder
  • Bufferin®
  • Ecotrin®
  • Excedrin®
  • Goody’s®
  • Vanquish®
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much aspirin can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for aspirin

Aspirin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You drink more than three or more alcoholic drinks a day.
  • You are currently using a medicine containing an NSAID (e.g., aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, ketoprofen).
  • You have stomach problems that last or come back, such as heartburn, upset stomach, or stomach pain; ulcers; or bleeding problems.
  • You have asthma.
  • You are taking a prescription blood thinner (anticoagulant) or a prescription medicine for gout, diabetes, or arthritis.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women in the last three months of pregnancy are specifically told not to use aspirin or any other NSAID (e.g., naproxen sodium, magnesium salicylate, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen) without a healthcare provider’s permission.
  • You are considering starting an aspirin regimen. You should not take aspirin for any other reason than what it says on the label unless recommended by a healthcare provider.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before giving aspirin to a child who is under the age of 12.

Do not use if:

  • You are allergic to aspirin or any other pain reliever or fever reducer.
  • You are a woman in the last three months of pregnancy unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to. Problems in the unborn child or complications during delivery may occur.
  • Tamper-evident packaging features such as seals, locks, and films are not clear or seem broken.
  • Do not give aspirin to a child or teenager who has or is recovering from the chicken pox or flu, because a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome is reported to be associated with aspirin.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • An allergic reaction occurs. Seek medical help right away.
  • Your fever gets worse or lasts more than three days, or if your pain gets worse and lasts more than 10 days.
  • You have signs of stomach bleeding, such as if you feel faint, vomit blood, have stomach pain or upset that lasts or does not get better, or if you have bloody or black stools.
  • Redness or swelling is present in the painful area or if any new symptoms appear.
  • You hear ringing in your ears or you begin to lose your hearing.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of aspirin?

  • Aspirin may cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include hives, facial swelling, asthma (wheezing), shock, skin reddening, rash, or blisters.
  • Stomach bleeding may occur.

This information will help you identify medications that contain aspirin and other NSAIDs. It’s important to stop taking these medications before many cancer treatments.

Aspirin, other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), and vitamin E can increase your risk of bleeding during cancer treatment. These medications affect your platelets (blood cells that clot to prevent bleeding). Read the section “Examples of Medications” to see if your medications contain aspirin, other NSAIDs, or vitamin E.

If you take aspirin, medications that contain aspirin, other NSAIDs, or vitamin E, tell your healthcare provider. They will tell you if you need to stop taking the medication(s) before your treatment. You will also find instructions in the information about your treatment.

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Before Your Surgery

If you’re having surgery, follow the instructions below. If your healthcare provider gives you other instructions, follow those instead.

  • Stop taking medications that contain vitamin E 10 days before your surgery or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Stop taking medications that contain aspirin 7 days before your surgery or as directed by your healthcare provider. If you take aspirin because you’ve had a problem with your heart or you’ve had a stroke, don’t stop taking it without talking with your healthcare provider first.
  • Stop taking NSAIDs 48 hours (2 days) before your surgery or as directed by your healthcare provider.

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Before Your Radiology Procedure

If you’re having a radiology procedure (including Interventional Radiology, Interventional Mammography, Breast Imaging, and General Radiology), follow the instructions below. If your healthcare provider gives you other instructions, follow those instead.

  • Stop taking medications that contain vitamin E 10 days before your procedure or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • If your healthcare provider tells you to stop taking aspirin, stop taking it 5 days before your procedure or as directed by your healthcare provider. If you take aspirin because you’ve had a problem with your heart or you’ve had a stroke, don’t stop taking it without talking with your healthcare provider first.
  • Stop taking NSAIDs 24 hours (1 day) before your procedure or as directed by your healthcare provider.

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Before and During Your Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can lower your platelet count, which can increase your risk of bleeding. Whether you’re just starting chemotherapy or have been getting it, talk with your healthcare provider before taking aspirin or other NSAIDs.

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Examples of Medications

Medications are often called by their brand name. This can make it hard to know their ingredients. To help you identify medications that contain aspirin, other NSAIDs, and vitamin E, please read the lists below.

These lists include the most common products, but there are others. Check with your healthcare provider if you aren’t sure. Always be sure your healthcare provider knows all of the medications you’re taking, both prescription and over-the-counter (not prescription).

Common Medications Containing Aspirin
Aggrenox® Cama® Arthritis Pain Reliever Heartline® Robaxisal® Tablets
Alka Seltzer® COPE® Headrin® Roxiprin®
Anacin® Dasin® Isollyl® Saleto®
Arthritis Pain Formula Easprin® Lanorinal® Salocol®
Arthritis Foundation Pain Reliever® Ecotrin® (most formulations) Lortab® ASA Tablets Sodol®
ASA Enseals® Empirin® Aspirin (most formulations) Magnaprin® Soma® Compound Tablets
ASA Suppositories® Epromate® Marnal® Soma® Compound with Codeine Tablets
Ascriptin® and Ascriptin A/D® Equagesic Tablets Micrainin® St. Joseph® Adult Chewable Aspirin
Aspergum® Equazine® Momentum® Supac®
Asprimox® Excedrin® Extra-Strength Analgesic Tablets and Caplets Norgesic Forte® (most formulations) Synalgos®-DC Capsules
Axotal® Excedrin® Migraine Norwich® Aspirin Tenol-Plus®
Azdone® Fiorgen® PAC® Analgesic Tablets Trigesic®
Bayer® (most formulations) Fiorinal® (most formulations) Orphengesic® Talwin® Compound
BC® Powder and Cold formulations Fiortal® Painaid® Vanquish® Analgesic Caplets
Bufferin® (most formulations) Gelpirin® Panasal® Wesprin® Buffered
Buffets II® Genprin® Percodan® Tablets Zee-Seltzer®
Buffex® Gensan® Persistin® ZORprin®
Common Medications That Are NSAIDs That Don’t Contain Aspirin
Advil® Duexis® Mefenamic Acid PediaCare Fever®
Advil Migraine® Etodolac® Meloxicam Piroxicam
Aleve® Feldene® Menadol® Ponstel®
Anaprox DS® Fenoprofen Midol® Relafen®
Ansaid® Flurbiprofen Mobic® Saleto 200®
Arthrotec® Genpril® Motrin® Sulindac
Bayer® Select Pain Relief Formula Caplets Ibuprofen Nabumetone Toradol®
Celebrex® Indomethacin Nalfon® Treximet®
Celecoxib Indocin® Naproxen Vicoprofen®
Children’s Motrin® Ketoprofen Naprosyn® Vimovo®
Clinoril® Ketorolac Nuprin® Voltaren®
Daypro® Lodine® Orudis®
Diclofenac Meclofenamate Oxaprozin

Products Containing Vitamin E
Amino-Opt-E Aquavit E-400 IU E complex-600
Aquasol E D’alpha E E-1000 IU Softgels Vita-Plus E

Most multivitamins contain vitamin E. If you take a multivitamin, check the label.

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About Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is generally safe to take during your cancer treatment. It doesn’t affect platelets, so it won’t increase your chance of bleeding. But, talk with your healthcare provider before taking acetaminophen if you’re getting chemotherapy.

Medications Containing Acetaminophen
Acephen® Esgic® Percocet® Vanquish®
Aceta® with Codeine Excedrin P.M.® Primlev® Vicodin®
Acetaminophen with Codeine Fiorcet® Repan® Wygesic®
Aspirin-Free Anacin® Lorcet® Roxicet® Xartemis XR®
Arthritis Pain Formula® Aspirin-Free Lortab® Talacen® Xodol®
Datril® Naldegesic® Tempra® Zydone®
Di-Gesic® Norco® Tylenol®
Endocet® Panadol® Tylenol® with Codeine No. 3

Read the labels on all your medications

Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed. But, there’s a limit to how much you can take in 1 day. It’s possible to take too much acetaminophen without knowing because it’s in many different medications.

Always read and follow the label on the product you’re taking. Acetaminophen is a very common ingredient found in over-the-counter and prescription medications. It’s often an ingredient in pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids, and cough, cold, and allergy medications.

The full name acetaminophen isn’t always written out. Look for the common abbreviations listed below, especially on prescription pain relievers.

Common Abbreviations for Acetaminophen
APAP AC Acetaminop
Acetamin Acetam Acetaminoph

Don’t take more than 1 medication that contains acetaminophen at a time without talking with a member of your healthcare team.

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Over-the-counter pain relievers

Pain medicines are also called analgesics. Each kind of pain medicine has benefits and risks. Some types of pain respond better to one kind of medicine than to another kind. What takes away your pain might not work for someone else.

Taking pain medicines before exercising is OK. But do not overdo the exercise just because you have taken the medicine.

Read labels to learn how much medicine you can give your child at one time and during the whole day. This is known as the dosage. Talk to your pharmacist or your child’s health care provider if you are not sure about the correct amount. Do not give children medicine that is meant for adults.

Other tips for taking pain medicines:

  • If you take pain relievers on most days, tell your provider. You may need to be watched for side effects.
  • Do not take more than the amount recommended on the container or more than your provider tells you to take.
  • Read the warnings on the label before taking the medicine.
  • Store medicine safely and securely. Check the dates on medicine containers to see when you should throw them away.

ACETAMINOPHEN

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known as a non-aspirin pain reliever. It is NOT an NSAID, which is described below.

  • Acetaminophen relieves fever and headaches, and other common aches and pains. It does not relieve inflammation.
  • This medicine does not cause as many stomach problems as other pain medicines do. It is also safer for children. Acetaminophen is often recommended for arthritis pain because it has fewer side effects than other pain medicines.
  • Examples of OTC brands of acetaminophen are Tylenol, Paracetamol, and Panadol.
  • Acetaminophen prescribed by a doctor is usually a stronger medicine. It is often combined with a narcotic ingredient.

PRECAUTIONS

  • Adults should not take more than 3 grams (3,000 mg) of acetaminophen in a single day. Large amounts can harm your liver. Remember that 3 grams is about the same as 6 extra-strength pills or 9 regular pills.
  • If you are also taking pain medicine prescribed by your provider, talk to your provider or pharmacist before taking any OTC acetaminophen.
  • For children, follow package instructions for the maximum amount your child can have in a single day. Call your child’s provider if you are not sure about the instructions.

NSAIDS

  • NSAIDs relieve fever and pain. They also reduce swelling from arthritis or a muscle sprain or strain.
  • When taken for a short time (no longer than 10 days), NSAIDs are safe for most people.
  • Some NSAIDs can be bought over the counter, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
  • Other NSAIDs are prescribed by your provider.

PRECAUTIONS

  • DO NOT give aspirin to children. Reye syndrome can occur when aspirin is used to treat children who have viral infections, such as chickenpox or the flu.

Talk to your provider or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter NSAID if you:

  • Have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or stomach or digestive tract bleeding.
  • Take other medicines, especially blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin),clopidogrel (Plavix), apixiban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), or rivaroxaban (Xarelto).
  • Are taking NSAIDs prescribed by your provider, including celecoxib (Celebrex) or nabumetone (Relafen).

Ibuprofen (ibuprofen sodium, solubilized ibuprofen)

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fevers. It is also available in prescription-strength medicines. Ibuprofen is part of a group of pain relievers and fever reducers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Ibuprofen can be the only ingredient in oral pain relievers and fever reducers or it can be found in medicines that treat migraines. It is also available in medicines that not only relieve pain or reduce fever, but treat additional symptoms as well, such as occasional sleeplessness, allergies, the multiple symptoms of the common cold, and symptoms associated with menstruation.

What is ibuprofen used to treat?

  • Minor aches and pains
  • Fever
  • Allergies
  • Symptoms associated with the common cold
  • Symptoms associated with menstruation
Common brands containing ibuprofen:
  • Advil®
  • MOTRIN®
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much ibuprofen can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. You should never take more ibuprofen or for a longer period of time than the label instructs unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Certain health risks such as heart attack, stroke, or stomach bleeding may increase if you use more than directed or for longer than directed.

  • You are currently using another medicine containing an NSAID (e.g., aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen).
  • You are taking a blood thinner (anticoagulant), steroid, diuretic, or any other drug.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women in the last three months of pregnancy are specifically told not to use ibuprofen or any NSAID without a healthcare provider’s permission.
  • You are over the age of 60.
  • You have had stomach ulcers or bleeding problems.
  • You drink three or more alcoholic drinks every day.
  • You are under a healthcare provider’s care for any serious condition.
  • You are taking aspirin for heart attack or stroke. Ibuprofen may decrease this benefit of taking aspirin.
  • You are unsure about child dosing instructions. Read the label and contact your healthcare provider as directed.
  • Before giving ibuprofen to a child if the child has not been drinking fluids, has lost a lot of fluid due to vomiting or diarrhea, or is taking a diuretic.
  • You are preparing to have heart surgery or if you just had heart surgery.
  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to any other pain reliever or fever reducer.
  • You are a woman in the last three months of pregnancy, unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to. Problems in the unborn child or complications during delivery could occur.
  • Tamper-evident packaging features such as seals, locks, and films are not clear or seem broken.
  • Do not give ibuprofen to children under six months of age.
  • An allergic reaction occurs. Seek medical help right away.
  • Your fever gets worse or lasts more than three days, or if your pain gets worse and lasts more than 10 days.
  • You have signs of stomach bleeding, such as if you feel faint, vomit blood, have stomach pain or upset that lasts or does not get better, or have bloody or black stools.
  • Redness or swelling is present in the painful area or if any new symptoms appear.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • If your child has a severe sore throat that lasts for more than two days, or is accompanied or followed by high fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting.

What are the side effects of ibuprofen?

  • Ibuprofen, like other NSAIDs, may cause a severe allergic reaction, especially in people allergic to aspirin. Symptoms may include hives, facial swelling, asthma (wheezing), shock, skin reddening, rash, or blisters.
  • Severe stomach bleeding may occur. The chance is higher if you are age 60 or older; have had stomach ulcers or bleeding problems; or if you are taking a blood thinner (anticoagulant), steroid drug, or other medicines containing NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin, magnesium salicylate, naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen).
  • If upset stomach occurs, you may take the medicine with milk or food.

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