Difference Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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People use pain reliever medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to treat pain and reduce fever. Different cases require different medications, and both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are widely used.

That’s why it’s important to know the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen. In this article, we are going to talk about the key distinctions between acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Acetaminophen Ibuprofen
Available as both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Only available as over-the-counter medications.
Weaker pain reliever. Stronger pain reliever.
To treat mild to moderate pain. To treat moderate to severe pain.
Not available in liquid form. Available in liquid form.
Helps to reduce fever. Helps to reduce inflammation.
Less likely to cause stomach problems. More likely to cause stomach bleeding.

Difference Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

The main difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen is that acetaminophen is a pain reliever while ibuprofen is also a fever reducer.

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen can cause stomach problems such as nausea and vomiting. Ibuprofen is also more likely to cause stomach bleeding than acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is available in both prescription and over-the-counter medications, while ibuprofen is only available over-the-counter.

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As pain reliever medications, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both effective in treating pain. It is important to consult a doctor before taking either of these medications to ensure that the medication is appropriate for the individual’s condition.

Ibuprofen might be a better choice for pain relief than acetaminophen because it is a stronger pain reliever. However, acetaminophen is less likely to cause stomach problems.

People usually take acetaminophen for mild to moderate pain, and ibuprofen for moderate to severe pain. Doctors might also prescribe ibuprofen for conditions such as arthritis.

Ibuprofen is also available in a liquid form, which makes it easier to give to children than acetaminophen. Children’s doses of acetaminophen are based on weight, while ibuprofen doses are not. Adults may need to take more than one ibuprofen tablet to achieve the desired effect.

For fever reduction, acetaminophen is a better choice than ibuprofen. Acetaminophen helps to reduce fever by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, while ibuprofen does not have this effect.

Children are recommended to take acetaminophen for fever reduction, while ibuprofen is not recommended for children under the age of six months. 

Stomach bleeding is a rare but serious complication associated with ibuprofen. Acetaminophen does not have this risk. Symptoms of stomach bleeding include vomiting blood, black tarry stools, and dizziness.

People with liver problems should not take acetaminophen because it can cause liver damage. Ibuprofen is not known to cause liver damage. Symptoms of liver damage include yellowing of the skin and eyes, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Pay attention to the ingredients listed on the label of over-the-counter medications. Acetaminophen is usually listed as “APAP” or “acetaminophen.” Ibuprofen is usually listed as “ibuprofen” or “IB.”

Other illnesses such as the common cold might also be treated with ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which means that it helps to reduce inflammation.

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