Friday, February 26, 2010

Advil Vs. Tylenol, What’s the Difference?

We’ve all heard someone ask "Does anyone have any Advil?". Sometimes people mention a specific over-the-counter pain reliever regardless of what they intend to use it for. However, there are differences between these medications which means that some work better than others for different conditions.

Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin)
Aspirin is used to treat headaches, minor body aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation from strains and sprains. Aspirin works in two main ways. First, by it inhibiting an enzyme that helps produce compounds called “Prostaglandins“. These are compounds that, among other things, sensitize our nerves to pain signals. Secondly, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by preventing platelets in the blood stream from “sticking” together. The negative side effects of aspirin can include stomach upset, heartburn, and even upper abdominal pain. It's also counter indicated for hemophiliacs because of it's anticoagulant properties and should not be given to children with a fever due to its link to Reye's syndrome (a potentially fatal disease). An added benefit to aspirin is it’s use in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes, due to it’s anticoagulant properties.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Chemically, ibuprofen is very similar to aspirin and functions in a similar way, inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. It just does so with slightly different chemical reactions. So why would you use ibuprofen instead of aspirin? In lower doses, ibuprofen seems to irritate the esophagus and stomach lining less than aspirin or naproxen. Therefore, if you have ulcers or acid reflux disease, ibuprofen is probably the best choice for reducing inflammation from conditions like strains and sprains or arthritis.

Naproxen (Aleve, Midol Extended Relief)
Although mainly used for headaches, naproxen is also an effective anti-inflammatory agent. For arthritis, strains and sprains, sunburns, and other aches and pains resulting from inflammation, naproxen seems to be the best choice. Some studies also show that naproxen works better than aspirin in relieving the pain of menstrual cramps. Another benefit to naproxen is it’s ability to provide 8 to 12 hours of pain relief compared to the 4 to 8 hours given by a similar dose of ibuprofen.

Acetaminophen or Paracetamol (Tylenol)
Although acetaminophen effectively lowers fevers and soothes headaches, it does not act as an anti-inflammatory. This means that it won't help those aches and pains from arthritis or last weekends touch football game. However, acetaminophen does have the additional benefit of being “easier” on the esophagus and stomach. This is of course important for headache sufferers that also suffer from GERD, stomach ulcers, and nausea. Acetaminophen is also safer for hemophiliacs and children because of it’s inability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, resulting in less risk of bleeding or Reye‘s Syndrome. One warning about the use of acetaminophen, the “overdose” amount is fairly close to the typical dosage used for pain relief so some physicians consider it more dangerous than aspirin, as it is easier to overdose unintentionally.

You didn’t think I would forget about the most effective pain reliever of all, did you? Chiropractic is especially effective at relieving pain from arthritis, sprains and strains, and headaches. While over the counter pain relievers can give temporary relief to the symptoms of your problem (pain), we can fix the cause of your problem. Call our office today!

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