What’s the difference between OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen/aspirin/Tylenol/acetaminophen?

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What’s the difference between OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen/aspirin/Tylenol/acetaminophen?

In: Chemistry

Acetaminophen and Tylenol are the same. I’ll refer to this drug as Paracetamol though, because that’s what we call it in the UK.

Ibuprofen and Aspirin are a different class of drugs, they’re part of a class called NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs). They help reduce inflammation, as the class name suggests, Paracetamol doesn’t really do that.

To first know how paracetamol helps relieve pain, we first need to look at prostaglandins. These are lipids that are produced in the brain and spinal cord, and they’re believed to make nerve endings more sensitive. The current theory of how paracetamol works is by reducing the amount of prostaglandins being produced, therefore making nerve endings less sensitive; giving you the pain relief.
Paracetamol is also really good at reducing fever, as it effects the part of the brain that helps regulate body temperature (the hypothalamus).

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