Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), ibuprofen and paracetamol are among the most consumed medicines in any home in the world, but do we know when to take them?
The fever-reducing, pain relief, and anti-inflammatory properties of these common over-the-counter medicines make them indispensable in most home medicine cabinets. Among their most common uses are back pain, toothache, headache, menstrual pain and fever. Each of these individual drugs has specific instructions and is designed to relieve certain ailments. In this article we will review the most important ones along with their restrictions.
Use of Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen
All three drugs are included in the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
This pain medication (acetylsalicylic acid) has been losing presence in medicine cabinets in favour of ibuprofen. It is used to treat fever, pain and inflammation thanks to its non-selective cyclo-oxygenase inhibiting effect.
It is also commonly prescribed to patients with heart disease as it is an excellent antiplatelet agent that prevents blood clots.
It is not recommended for people under 18 years of age to take this medicine because it may cause Reye’s syndrome, which produces sudden brain damage and liver problems.
Other side effects include dyspepsia (indigestion), aggravation of asthma symptoms, and risk of stomach perforation.
This medicine is similar to aspirin and therefore is harmful at the gastric level and can produce alterations in the mucous membrane in that area. It has pain relieving, fever reducing and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Among its most common uses are the symptomatic relief of headache, muscle pain, toothache or menstruation, in addition to pharyngitis, arthritis or joint pain.
At present, the sale of higher doses (600mg) without medical prescription has been prohibited. Ibuprofen is available in tablets, suppositories, and drinkable or granulated sachets.
When consuming ibuprofen, one must take into account that its prolonged or excessive use can have serious consequences for the cardiovascular system, including kidneys and liver.
Under no circumstances should it be taken by patients suffering from a stomach ulcer or serious liver or kidney failure, or by people who have been prescribed antihypertensive drugs.
Paracetamol can be used for pain relief and to reduce fever, however does not have any anti-inflammatory properties. It is mainly recommended to reduce mild bone, menstrual, and muscle pain. It is often available in doses of 500 mg, 600 mg and 1 gram (only with a prescription) and can also be found in various formats: granules, tablets, drinkable solutions and suppositories.
Although paracetamol has no side effects on the stomach, it can cause liver and kidney damage if overused.
As a general rule, if no inflammation is present, paracetamol is preferable to that of ibuprofen as it is easier on the stomach. In the case one feels both pain and inflammation, ibuprofen is a better choice.