Difference Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen (With Table)

One of the most common reasons why people visit medical experts is for pain relief. There are numerous medications available in the market for the same. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are two such drugs that are proven to be very effective for pain. From headaches to toothaches, both relieve the user of all major symptoms.

Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen

The difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen is that acetaminophen can only relieve the user of pain and fever whereas, in the case of ibuprofen, the user can get relief from inflammation as well as pain and fever. This means that ibuprofen 2 has more uses than the former. Some research also suggests that acetaminophen is not as effective as ibuprofen 2 for pain relief.

Acetaminophen, often referred to as paracetamol, is an over-the-counter medication used to treat the symptoms of fever and low-moderate pain. The medication lowers the temperature of the body by a slight degree and thus provides the user with immediate relief. Some common symptoms that it can treat are headaches, pain in joints and muscle pain.

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter medication that is useful for the treatment of pain, fever as well as inflammation. It is often used by patients suffering from headaches, dental pain, menstrual cramps, muscle aches and even arthritis. It reduces fever and even helps relieve a person from the symptoms of the common cold and flu. 

Comparison Table Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Parameters of ComparisonAcetaminophenIbuprofen 2profen
UsesAcetaminophen is used to treat mild to moderate pain and fever.Ibuprofen is used to treat pain, fever, as well as inflammation.
Side EffectsSome common side effects of acetaminophen include nausea, itching, rash, headache, loss of appetite and dark urine.Common side effects of ibuprofen 2 include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, tinnitus, and difficulty in breathing.
Functional PrincipleAcetaminophen inhibits the production of prostaglandins in the brain which sensitizes pain.Ibuprofen 2 inhibits COX1 which catalyzes the creation and secretion of prostaglandins.
PrecautionsLong term use or overdose of acetaminophen may cause liver damage.Long term use or overdose of ibuprofen may cause internal bleeding.
SafetyAcetaminophen is relatively safe to use.Ibuprofen should be avoided during pregnancy.

What is Acetaminophen?

Acetaminophen is a medication used to relieve pain and fever. It is also called paracetamol or Tylenol. It is an over-the-counter medication that is usually well tolerated by most users. However, some users may come across rare symptoms such as nausea, itching, rashes, headaches, loss of appetite and dark coloured urine.

On consuming a standard dose of the drug, the body temperature of the user decreases by a slight degree. Acetaminophen also relieves pain that is caused due to acute migraines. However, it works more effectively when combined with other medications such as aspirin or caffeine. It is recommended to ingest a maximum of three to four grams of acetaminophen for safety. A higher dose may result in toxicity and even liver failure.

Acetaminophen was first made in the 1800s and was widely used as a medication for fever and pain in the United States as well as Europe. The drug even made it to the list of the World Health Organization’s Essential Medications. In the year 2018, it was deemed as the most prescribed medication in the US. More than 27 million doctors prescribed it then for patients suffering from mild fevers and pain. However, there is not enough research that supports the drug as a treatment for chronic pain.

What is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammation medication that is used to treat pain, fevers, and inflammation. Some common conditions that it is used to treat are menstrual cramps, migraines, as well as rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is either consumed orally or intravenously. In doing so, its effects can be noticed within an hour.

The medication is not as safe as acetaminophen but is surely more effective. It is advised that pregnant women restrain from its use to avoid adverse symptoms. Some common side effects of ibuprofen 2 include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, rashes, stomach upset, tinnitus, tiredness and even difficulty in breathing. Prolonged use or overdose of the drug may even lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure.  It can even worsen the symptoms of asthma.

Ibuprofen was discovered in the year of 1961 by Stewart Adams and John Nicholson. Both of them worked at Boots UK Limited. They initially suggested for the drug to be sold under the name ‘Brufen’. However, the medication later became available under many brand names including Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. Ibuprofen 2 was first marketed in the United Kingdom in 1969, after which its use became quite popular in the United States in 1974.

Main Differences Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

  1. Acetaminophen is used to treat mild to moderate pain and fever while ibuprofen is used to treat pain, fever, as well as inflammation.
  2. Common side effects of acetaminophen include nausea, itching, rash, headache, loss of appetite and dark urine while that of ibuprofen include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, tinnitus, and difficulty in breathing.
  3. Acetaminophen inhibits the production of prostaglandins in the brain which sensitizes pain while ibuprofen inhibits COX1 which catalyzes the creation and secretion of prostaglandins.
  4. Long term use or overdose of acetaminophen may cause liver damage while that of ibuprofen may cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
  5. Acetaminophen is safe to consume during pregnancy while ibuprofen is not.

Conclusion

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen have uses that are very similar. However, one major difference between the two is that acetaminophen does not relieve a person from inflammation while ibuprofen does. While both of them are claimed to be painkillers, acetaminophen is used only for mild to moderate pain while ibuprofen can even be used for chronic pain. Moreover, acetaminophen may not be as effective as the latter.

Another difference between the two lies in the way that both of them work in the body. While acetaminophen inhibits the production of prostaglandins in the brain, ibuprofen inhibits the production of COX1, which is a catalyst for prostaglandin production. Regardless of this, both medications should be used only after consulting a medical professional. 

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/485730
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jid/article-abstract/162/6/1277/918184

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