A survey conducted by Panadol last year revealed that a third of UK adults don’t know the difference between different painkillers and would just take the first painkiller available to them. With ibuprofen and paracetamol occupying a space in most of our bathroom cabinets, it’s important to know the difference and which to take when.
Paracetamol is a non-narcotic painkiller and fever reducer and belongs to a group of medicines called analgesics.
It should be used for mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, toothache, muscle or joint pain, and period pain. It is generally safe to take with other medications, although you should always check with your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you have liver or kidney problems. You should also be careful about combining it with other over-the-counter medicines or cold treatments.
Paracetamol side-effects are rare if taken correctly, but like all medicines, can be very dangerous if more than the recommended dose is taken.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It can be used to relieve pain and inflammation from rheumatic or muscular pain, headache, backache, period pain, and cold and flu symptoms.
It can interact with other medications, including herbal and over-the-counter options, so should be taken with care. Check with your GP or pharmacist, especially if you have blood clotting problems, peptic ulcers, kidney or heart problems. Ibuprofen can also cause drowsiness or dizziness.
Before taking any painkillers, always read the instructions carefully, and consult your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure, or are taking any other medicines.