Difference Between Common Painkillers

Know Which Pain Reliever is the Most Suitable for You

You may have experienced going to your local pharmacy for your throbbing headache only to have it worsened by all the confusing options you have. From aspirin, ibuprofen to acetaminophen, let’s take a look at the difference between these over-the-counter pain relievers and know which one is most suitable, not only for your pain management but for your overall health as well.


Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is the most common over-the-counter painkiller. This medication is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is known to relieve pain, reduce fever and inflammation. For the longest time, doctors have recommended aspirins for almost all kinds of pain that it was included in the Guinness World Records for being the most frequently sold painkiller. Aspirin is a good choice for treating headaches, toothaches, muscular pain, sprain, as well as flu-like symptoms such as colds and fever. In low doses, it can also be used to thin the blood. However, if you are already taking blood thinners or other medicines such as vitamins, herbals, and other dietary supplements, this may not be the best painkiller for you. Some health risks include upset stomach or in rare cases, bleeding in the intestines or stomach ulcers.


Ibuprofen is also a type of NSAID that is generally the most widely used and accessible pain reliever for day-to-day aches and pains. This medication works by reducing the amount of prostaglandin or the hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Ibuprofen can be used for headaches, backaches as well as inflammation caused by rheumatic and muscular pain. It can also treat flu-like symptoms and is said to be the most effective pain reliever for menstrual cramps and period pain. Just like any other NSAID, ibuprofen can cause upset stomach and bleeding if you take it every day. It can also increase your risk of heart attacks and stroke.


Acetaminophen belongs to a group of medicines known as analgesics. This type of medication targets the parts of your brain that receive pain messages and control body temperature, making it the perfect remedy to ease pain associated with fever and flu such as headaches, muscle aches, and back pain. Since acetaminophen is not NSAID, it does not have any anti-swelling properties that can help with inflammation. Acetaminophen is less likely to cause an upset stomach, but prolonged usage can cause liver damage.

Whether you are suffering from a common headache, toothache, or pulled muscle, you can be sure that there is a suitable over-the-counter pain reliever for you that can help manage your pain. Just make sure that if you have an existing medical condition, it is still best to consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter painkiller.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.