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Difference Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Acetaminophen vs Ibuprofen

In times of sickness, such as having fever or body pains, people usually take in the most common medications that they have. Basically, these medications could be in the form of acetaminophens or ibuprofens. Furthermore, most people who take these medications regard them as having similar actions, thus usually group them as one. Are differences between the two? Although they may be classified as pain relievers, antipyretics, and anti-inflammatory drugs, they do have subtle differences.

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are considered as NSAIDs, or Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Although they have both the ability to relieve a person from feeling mild to moderate levels of pain, they cannot help those with severe pain.

Pain is caused by the presence of fatty acids called prostaglandins that trigger pain receptors and then, impulses are sent to the brain, thus making the person feel pain. Ibuprofen has the capacity to provide a longer therapeutic effect, thereby giving a person more time to be relieved of complaints than what acetaminophen does. Furthermore, Ibuprofen is slightly more powerful, both in reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Acetaminophen on the other hand, may give a person some relief or reduce pain but does not actually reduce any inflammation.

Both also target the hypothalamus to control body temperature.The hypothalamus is the main body part that influences thermoregulation, and any detected problems in the body would trigger the hypothalamus to send hormones that increase body metabolism, thus subsequently increase body temperature.

Recent findings have shown that Ibuprofen acts better as an antipyretic than acetaminophen. This means that it can work faster and better in reducing body temperatures of about 380C or higher, which indicates fever. Acetaminophen may also reduce fever, but at a slower rate. So basically, during complaints of fever, Ibuprofen may be the better choice.

However, Acetaminophen does not cause many gastro-intestinal problems which Ibuprofen does. This basically implies that Acetaminophen can be taken in without food since it is milder than other medicines. On the other hand, Ibuprofen is advised to be taken in after meals or with food, because it causes more gastro-intestinal problems and has a high tendency to irritate the stomach lining. Thus, Acetaminophen is better preferred for those who have poor appetite or cannot take in food.

Knowing about the differences between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen could help people understand and learn more about how each affects the body.


1. Ibuprofen is slightly more powerful and longer-acting, both relieving pain sensations and reducing inflammation by acting on prostaglandins; while Acetaminophen may relieve pain but does not reduce any swelling or inflammation.
2. Ibuprofen is a better antipyretic, which works faster when reducing body temperature during fever.
3. Acetaminophen is milder on the stomach lining, thus can be taken in without food.

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  1. “… body temperatures of about 380C or higher…”

    Yeah, which lifeforms are we talking about here? =]

  2. you state: “This means that it can work faster and better in reducing body temperatures of about 380C or higher, which indicates fever.” 380C=716 Fahrenheit. (!)

    • Almost certainly a font control issue. Without an insert symbol facility, the degree symbol is often created by using a “ZERO” 0 or ‘o’ in superscript mode. This text box’s display control software does not allow superscript, subscript etc, and so the intended degrees ends up as a zero behind the 38 .

  3. lost all credibility when saying acetaminophen is an NSAID it is not.

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