NSAID vs Acetaminophen: Difference and Comparison

NSAIDs and Acetaminophen are nothing but types of medications used for pain relief and reducing fever. They are non-narcotic and non-steroidal drugs, and, hence, are considered to be safe drugs used as painkillers.

While both NSAID and Acetaminophen are used for the same purpose, they differ in many ways. 

Key Takeaways

  1. NSAIDs reduce inflammation, pain, and fever, while acetaminophen only addresses pain and fever.
  2. NSAIDs work by inhibiting the COX enzymes, whereas acetaminophen affects the central nervous system.
  3. Acetaminophen has fewer side effects than NSAIDs, which can cause gastrointestinal issues and bleeding.

NSAID vs Acetaminophen 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed medications used to reduce swelling and irritation. They are safe, non-narcotic drugs that can be used as painkillers. Acetaminophen or paracetamol is a medication used to reduce fever and pain. It is a safe painkiller that should be used at a normal dosage of 400mg per day.

NSAID vs Acetaminophen

NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs are medications that are not steroids. They are used to reduce fever and are often used as painkillers.

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NSAIDs also work as anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation in the form of swelling and irritation. Some of the common examples of NSAIDs are- ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

Therefore, NSAIDs are generally safe drugs. However, these drugs have to be used with some precautions for people having bleeding or coagulation issues.  

Acetaminophen, also referred to as paracetamol, is a type of medication used to reduce pain and fever. However, unlike NSAIDs, Acetaminophen cannot be used to reduce inflammation.

These drugs are primarily used to reduce fever, flu, common cold, and headaches and are often combined with powerful painkillers to ease post-surgical pain.

Therefore, Acetaminophen is generally a safe drug. However, an overdose can cause some fatal damage to the liver, and hence, it needs to be used with caution. 

Comparison Table

  Parameters of Comparison   NSAID  Acetaminophen 
 Inflammation   Used to reduce inflammation in the form of irritation and swelling.   It cannot be used to reduce inflammation. 
 Blood/Coagulation issues   It cannot be used safely on people with blood or coagulation issues.  It can be used safely on people with blood or coagulation issues. 
 Pregnancy   It is not safe to be used during pregnancies.  It is safe to be used during pregnancies. 
 Overdose   An overdose can result in a heart attack or stroke, kidney failure.   An overdose can result in fatal damage to the liver. 
 Safety   Generally safe. However, it should be used with Cox-2 inhibitors to prevent peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.   This is a safe drug for adults up to a dosage of 400mg/day. 

What is NSAID? 

NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs are medications that are not steroids. They are used to reduce fever and are often used as painkillers.

NSAIDs also work as anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation in the form of swelling and irritation. The NSAID drugs are not narcotics. Hence, they do not produce addiction or withdrawal symptoms and are often preferred over powerful painkillers.  

Some of the common examples of NSAIDs are- ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. NSAIDs are non-steroidal, safe drugs that can be used to reduce pain and inflammation.

However, an overdose can lead to heart attack or stroke and kidney failure. NSAIDs are also not suitable for use on people with blood or coagulation issues.  

NSAIDs are generally preferred to be used with Cox-2 selective inhibitors to prevent chances of gastrointestinal bleeding or peptic ulcers. These drugs are also not safe for pregnant women.

NSAIDs interacting with antibiotic drugs like quinolones increase the chances of side effects like a seizure. Therefore, even though NSAIDs are safe drugs, they have to be used with some precautions. 

What is Acetaminophen? 

Acetaminophen, commonly known as paracetamol, is a type of medication used to reduce pain and fever. However, unlike NSAIDs, Acetaminophen cannot be used to reduce inflammation.

They are non-narcotic, safe painkillers and can be used to reduce fever, common cold, flu, and headaches.  

Acetaminophen is often combined with powerful painkillers to ease post-surgical pain. Acetaminophen is a safe drug that can be safely used on people with blood or coagulation issues.

They are also safe to be used on children and pregnant women. Acetaminophen is safe to be used on adults up to the dosage of 400mg/day.   

Acetaminophen, however, is not safe for chronic alcoholics. An overdose can lead to fatal liver damage and can have fatal skin drug reactions like Steven Johnson’s Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis in children.

Therefore, even though it is a safe drug, it has to be used with some precaution. 

acetaminophen

Main Differences Between NSAID and Acetaminophen 

  1. NSAIDs also work as anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation in the form of swelling and irritation. On the other hand, Acetaminophen cannot be used to reduce inflammation.  
  2. NSAID is not safe to be used on people with blood or coagulation issues, whereas Acetaminophen is safe to be used on people with blood or coagulation issues.  
  3. NSAIDs are not safe to be used during pregnancies, whereas Acetaminophen is safe to be used during pregnancies.  
  4. An overdose of NSAIDs can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. On the other hand, an overdose of Acetaminophen can lead to fatal liver damage.  
  5. NSAIDs are generally safe drugs. However, However, it should be used with Cox-2 inhibitors to prevent peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. On the other hand, Acetaminophen is safe in adults up to a dosage of 400mg/day. 
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References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889540606005774 
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0009922808319967 

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