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Nonprescription Medicines and Products - Pain Relievers

Other aspirin uses

In addition to relieving pain and inflammation, aspirin is effective against many other ailments. Because of the danger of side effects and the interactions aspirin may have with other medicines, do not try these uses of aspirin without a doctor's supervision.

Heart attack and stroke: Aspirin in low but regular doses may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in certain people. For more information, see:

  • Coronary Artery Disease.
  • Aspirin: Should I Take Daily Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?

Migraines: Regular, low-dose aspirin use may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. For more information, see the topic Migraine Headaches.

Other pain relievers

Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in products such as Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (in products such as Aleve) are other NSAIDs. Like aspirin, these drugs relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation. Also like aspirin, they can cause nausea, stomach irritation, and heartburn.

NSAID precautions (also see aspirin precautions)

  • Do not use an NSAID for longer than 10 days without talking to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs if you have:
    • Ulcers or a history of bleeding in your stomach or intestines.
    • Stomach pain, upset stomach, or heartburn that lasts or comes back.
    • Anemia.
    • Bleeding or easy bruising.
    • A habit of drinking more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day. This increases your risk of stomach bleeding.
    • High blood pressure.
    • Kidney, liver, or heart disease.
  • Talk to your doctor before using NSAIDs if you take:
    • Blood thinners, such as warfarin, heparin, or aspirin.
    • Medicine to treat mental health problems.
    • Medicine to decrease swelling (water pills).
    • Medicine for arthritis or diabetes.
  • Read and follow all the instructions slideshow.gif on the medicine bottle and box carefully before giving your child ibuprofen. For more information, see Use of Ibuprofen in Young Children.
  • Talk to your doctor before you give fever medicine to a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness.

AcetaminophenAcetaminophen (the active ingredient in products such as Tylenol) reduces fever and relieves pain. It does not have the anti-inflammatory effect of NSAIDS, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. But it also does not cause stomach upset and other side effects.

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