Is It Better To Take Aspirin Or Tylenol for Pain?

You are having back pain, your knee is throbbing, or maybe you have a simple headache. You open your cabinet full of over the counter meds and wonder which one you should grab to get some relief from your particular pain. It can be confusing sometimes, so is it better to take aspirin or Tylenol for pain?

All Pain Isn’t The Same

The cause of pain dictates which pain reliever you should take. Aspirin and Tylenol belong to different drug classes. Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication also known under such names as Ecotrin, Bayer, and Bufferin. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is an analgesic pain reliever and fever reducer. It is also known as Anacin or Panadol, and it does not provide the benefit of aiding in inflammation.Side view of worker with backache while lifting box in a warehouse

Benefits Of Aspirin

Aspirin blocks enzymes that activate tissue damage, cause pain, and increase swelling.

Aspirin is best used for the following conditions:

  • To reduce fever
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual pain
  • Toothache pain
  • Arthritis pain and other inflammations

A low dose of aspirin can be taken every day to prevent heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. If taken during a heart attack it can significantly reduce the chance of death.

Risks Of Aspirin

Taking aspirin can cause upset stomach, ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding since it acts a blood thinner.

Avoid aspirin if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney problems. Use caution when giving to children and teens especially if they have fever. Aspirin may also exacerbate asthma.

You should discontinue taking aspirin 10 to 14 days prior to any surgery.

Benefits Of Tylenol

Tylenol is an analgesic pain reliever and fever reducer. Tylenol helps with many of the same pain management issues as aspirin like fever, menstrual cramps, and headache. It is often used after surgery for pain in conjunction with an opioid.

It does not help to prevent strokes or heart attack, and it is not as effective with reducing headache pain, swelling or arthritis.

Tylenol is approved for children whereas aspirin is not.

Risks Of Tylenol

When used in recommended doses, there are only a few side effects of Tylenol like rash, headache, and nausea.

Chronic alcohol use can increase the risk of stomach bleeding with liver damage being the most serious if it is taken in large doses.

When used appropriately with recommended doses, both of these products are safe and can relieve your pain. It is critical to read labels thoroughly to learn about drug interactions.

Contact Palm Beach Pain Institute with questions or if you are not sure which of these OTC products is best for your pain.


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