Should I Take Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Aspirin?
Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are all popular over-the-counter pain relievers on the Food and Drug Administration. They’re all most people need to relieve aches and pains. So what exactly are the differences between the three drugs? They’re all NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, that reliever pain and swelling. They work on things like backaches, migraines, and sprained ankles to alleviate pain and fend off inflammation.
Ibuprofen, one of the newest pain relievers, is often referred to by its brand names Advil and Motrin. Approved by the FDA in 1974, it has been shown to treat the pain from toothaches and soft tissue injuries. Ibuprofen is also the choice for menstrual cramps and it has been proven to be the best pain relief for women during their monthly cycle. While it may irritate your stomach if not taken with food, there is no risk of blood thinning like aspirin may cause.
Aspirin, one of the oldest non-prescription pain relievers, has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight toothaches, treat arthritis, and calm the swelling in a sprained ankle in addition to treating minor aches and pains, reducing fevers, and eliminating headaches. Its two major side effects are stomach irritation and causing your blood to thin by reducing platelets, the cells that make blood clot. However, this is often seen as beneficial because people who already have partially blocked blood vessels aren’t at risk of developing blood clots, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Doctors often prescribe aspirin for patients who have suffered from a stroke or heart attack in the past.
Naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that only became available over the counter in the United States in 1994, is the most powerful pain reliever. However, it can upset your stomach even more than aspirin, so it should be taken as little as possible with lots of water. It works when ibuprofen fails for your pain.
So when you’re wandering through the drugstore aisles and have no idea which pain reliever to grab, choose by the type of pain you’re experiencing as well as any health issues you may have. Consider the side effects to each medication and weigh the benefits of the painkiller. Your lifestyle also determines the type of over-the-counter pain reliever to take. For example, heavy drinkers shouldn’t take aspirin because it increases the risk of stomach ulcers. Aspirin should also be avoided by anyone who has asthma, liver or kidney disease, or is pregnant or nursing.