You have a headache... or perhaps a toothache. Maybe your back hurts, or you have a raging fever. Actually you just want to keep your heart healthy.
Well pretty much for all of those reasons people typically reach for the nearest bottle of analgesic — more commonly known as the everyday pain reliever — Tylenol, Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, and others.
But with the different varieties available over-the-counter, is there really a difference between them? Should you take one for a backache and another for a fever? Are there any risks involved?
Dr. Steven Lamm, of NYU's School of Medicine, says in general the biggest thing to consider with pain medications is to make sure you're not just masking the pain you feel, but are seeking to diagnose and treat it. Also, the dosage and length of medication can depend on the purpose you are using it for, age, gender, and other risk factors you might have, so it is best to consult your physician. Here are some additional points from Dr. Lamm:
Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
Effective for mild to moderate pain disorders (tooth, headache)
Useful for lowering temp
Be careful not to exceed 4g/day and do not combine with other acetaminophen products
Alcohol drinkers and individuals with liver disease should be cautious -Also has been associated with blood pressure issues
Aspirin (e.g. Bayer)
Useful for preventing cardiovascular conditions and stroke
Very low doses (around 80mg) effective as anti-platelet agents
Modest doses effective for mild to moderate pain conditions
High doses required for anti-inflammatory effect
Has been associated with stomach ulcers and bleeding
Avoid giving to children with febrile illness (Reyes Syndrome)
Being studied in preventing colon cancer
Ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen (e.g. Aleve)
Effective for mild to moderate pain especially for musculoskeletal injuries
Effective in lowering temperature
Also has associated with stomach ulcers and bleeding
Can interfere with blood pressure medications
Can also be associated with kidney problems