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Drugs & treatments

Do you know the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen?

June 12, 2019

They’re both over-the-counter drugs, so you don’t need a prescription. Both analgesics used in self-medication, paracetamol (or acetaminophen) and ibuprofen are used to relieve general pain. From headaches to menstrual and joint pains, these are two of the most widely used active ingredients for this purpose. But what is the difference between them? We talked about it with Dr. Maria Fazio, head of the Humanitas pharmacy.


Paracetamol and ibuprofen: the differences

While paracetamol relieves pain and lowers fever, ibuprofen also has an anti-inflammatory effect. It is good not to abuse both drugs, but to take them when it is really necessary. While paracetamol can be used at low dosages even during pregnancy (after consulting the specialist or your general practitioner who will assess the individual case and the possible presence of allergies), ibuprofen is not recommended for pregnant women because of its potential ability to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins in the newborn.


When to take paracetamol and when to take ibuprofen?

If you are experiencing fever, pain of mild to moderate intensity such as toothache, bone pain, post-surgical pain and headache from musculotensive headache (therefore, not deriving from migraine), but also muscle-skeletal pain associated with acute infectious processes, the most recommended analgesic is paracetamol. In cases of arthritis, arthrosis and ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine), non-rheumatic inflammation and menstrual pain are better than ibuprofen which, like paracetamol, is not recommended in patients with gastric problems, renal or hepatic insufficiency. Ibuprofen is to be avoided even if antihypertensive drugs or anticoagulants were taken, high risk of interaction.

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