Picking OTC Pain Reliever Right For You

If you have a headache, arthritis, or even a toothache, choosing a painkiller can be a little confusing, especially with so many over-the-counter drugs available. So, here we take apart for you the most common painkillers. Pharmacy and supermarket shelves are littered with a dizzying array of boxes with names and labels describing the symptoms the medication is designed to treat. Each one has great benefits, but there are many things to consider before choosing which one to take. Here's some information on how to know which painkiller is best for you.

Picking OTC Pain Reliever


This ingredient, better known to most as Tylenol, is indicated for temporary relief of headaches, back pain, minor arthritis pain, toothache, muscle pain, menstrual cramps and for temporary fever relief. Acetaminophen does not relieve swelling or inflammation. Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed. However, you must be sure you don't accidentally take more than the maximum recommended daily allowance, since paracetamol may be one of the ingredients in other medications you take. According to the FDA, there are more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications that contain this ingredient, including cold and flu medications, so don't take more than 4,000 milligrams a day. Acetaminophen may be an appropriate pain management option for patients receiving cardiovascular therapy with aspirin because it does not interfere with the cardiovascular effects of your aspirin therapy and does not irritate the stomach in the way that ibuprofen does. For people receiving cardiovascular therapy with aspirin, doctors most often recommend Tilenol pain reliever.


Aspirin is indicated for temporary relief of headaches, toothaches, cold sore and fever, muscle pain, menstrual pain, and minor arthritis pain. It also helps slow blood clots-many doctors recommend aspirin therapy to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks in some patients. If you have talked to your doctor about taking aspirin for heart health, be sure to understand how some painkillers may interact with your heart aspirin therapy. Taking Acetylsalicylic Acid or other NSAIDs for pain relief when you are already on cardiac aspirin therapy can increase the risk of side effects, such as stomach bleeding. If you are taking cardiac aspirin therapy, ask your doctor for pain management recommendations.


In over-the-counter doses, ibuprofen is indicated for headaches, menstrual cramps, toothaches and muscle sprains. This pain relief option is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It works by reducing the amount of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins in the body that cause pain, fever, and inflammation. Effective in reducing fever and relieving pain, it can increase your risk of heart attacks or strokes if you take it for a long time, smoke, or have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease. It can also be hard on your stomach, especially if you are over 65, have a history of stomach ulcers, take anticoagulants, have a high risk of kidney problems, or consume more than three alcoholic beverages a day. When you take ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Advil, Motrin, it can compete with the positive benefits of cardiac aspirin therapy. Specifically, it blocks certain receptors that are necessary for the cardiovascular effects of aspirin.

The key is to find an option that works for you. If you are at risk for hypertension, diabetes, stroke or heart attack, talk to your doctor about possible drug interactions and then make a plan to find what works for you.

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