What are the differences between ibuprofen acetaminophen naproxen and aspirin?
Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are all NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti
inflammatory drugs.) Among other actions their main mechanism of
action is to block a group of enzymes called COX (cyclo-oxygenase)
enzymes. They reduce pain (analgesic), reduce high temperatures
(antipyrexial), reduce swelling (anti-inflammatory) and make the
blood less likely to clot (antithrombolic). As they're all in the
same group, they all have similar side effects and risks, however
the severity of each side effect varies across the drugs, for
instance naproxen is less likely to cause heart problems than
ibuprofen. Common side effects include gastric irritation (the
reason they should be taken with food) and bleeding. Other drugs in
this group include diclofenac and the coxibs (however these have
more specific action).
Acetaminophen (paracetamol), is not an NSAID and acts via
different mechanisms. It shares the analgesic and antipyretic
properties of the NSAIDs, but in not anti-inflammatory or
antithrombolic. It is broken down in the body by the liver, unlike
NSAIDS which are removed via the kidneys, and have very different
Acetaminophen can be taken with an NSAID, however you should not
take more than one NSAID at a time.