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Aspirin vs. Ibuprofen: 6 Pain Killers and Their Benefits

By (view all posts by SavingsIQ)
at 9:54AM Monday May 16, 2011
under Loose Change

Image courtesy of mrphancy via Flickr

In a recent study, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) including ibuprofen commonly known as Advil, were found to increase the risk of heart attacks in recent victims. 45% of them were more likely to die or have another attack after taking these drugs. Scary, huh? Which brings me to ponder the correct usage of pain killers and the benefits they may provide for you.
Bayer: Interestingly enough, Bayer aspirin claims to help prevent heart attacks when taken during a low dose regimen. Used to relieve minor aches and pains, headaches, reduce fever and inflammation, aspirin (aka acetylsalicylic acid) runs low on the strength scale. I've never taken Bayer, so I can't comment on the effectiveness. Aspirin also has an anti-platelet effect and is often prescribed to prevent heart attacks, clots and strokes.

If you're allergic to salicylates or have stomach problems, using aspirin to relieve pain and inflammation is not recommended. Bayer is pretty inexpensive, coming in at $15 for a box of 400 tablets. Or go generic and get a bottle of the same amount for around $8.

Tylenol and Excedrin: These two common pills both contain acetaminophen which is designed to relieve headaches, migraines and fever. Tylenol's best for those who are allergic to aspirin and is actually quite effective at getting rid of headaches. Not so much in the muscular or menstrual department though, as it's not as effective in reducing inflammation.  Excedrin contains aspirin and caffeine in addition to acetaminophen.  Tylenol costs around $10 for a bottle of 100 tabs. Excedrin is around $6 to $8. You can get a $1off Tylenol coupon on any of their products.  Excedrin has a $1 off coupon for Excedrin PM. Or, get the generic acetaminophen for $10 for 500 tablets.

Advil and Motrin:  Advil is my personal favorite as it does the job for aches, pains, colds, fever, menstrual cramps, backaches, toothaches and basically whatever ails you. Known generically as ibuprofen, Advil has been my friend for many many occasions. Yes, hangovers included. They even make Advil cold medicine for children and trust me, it does work in getting rid of their aches. It really is the every pain reliever.

Ibuprofen even has an anti-platelet effect--although it's not as effective as aspirin and in fact can interfere with the heart protecting capabilities of aspirin.  So if you're physician has recommended a daily aspirin regimen, you should avoid taking ibuprofen for aches and pains. Advil costs around $13 for a bottle of 120 tablets. Here's a $2 Advil coupon to help you save on your next Advil purchase. If you want to go generic, a box of 100 is around $5.

Motrin is similar to Advil in that it's meant to relieve all sorts of aches and pains. It's mostly targeted towards women who have menstrual cramps. However, I tried it before and wasn't too happy with the results. It actually gave me nightmares and got me all wired, but that could just be a personal reaction to Motrin. It contains ibuprofen as well, so I'm not sure why there was such an adverse side effect. They also make Motrin for kids and infants who need pain relief. Motrin runs $12 for 100 tabs. Here's a $1 coupon for Motrin PM. Generic is cheaper at $5 for 100.

Aleve: I've heard so many people tout the benefits of Aleve, saying it works so much better than Advil. Since I haven't strayed from Advil, I would like to know if any of you have taken Aleve and what your thoughts are compared to Advil. Aleve contains naproxen and is used for joint and muscle pain including pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Also recommended to reduce pain from fever, headaches, menstrual pain, the common cold, backaches and toothaches.

Originally available only by prescription, keep in mind that naproxen is stronger than other pain relievers and the maximum dosage is one tablet every 12 hours vs. 1-2 pills every 4-6 hours for ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  Aleve costs $13 for a pack of 100. They are offering a $2 Aleve coupon right now as well or go generic and get 100 for $4.

What are your favorite painkillers and what do you use them for? Would you buy generic medication to save money?