What Are The Different Types of Over-The-Counter Painkillers?

Whenever we are experiencing a painful sensation in our body, one of the most common solution to reduce the discomfort is to take painkillers. These painkillers are usually in a form of a capsule or tablet, which we could easily buy in our local drug store. A single tablet or capsule of a painkiller could work wonders and immediately ease the pain we feel in our body.

We sometimes take painkillers for various situations, but some of us don’t know much about these pain relief drugs. Painkillers come in different types, which are used for different purposes; these include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. There are many other drugs classified as painkillers, but these are the most common. In this article, we are going to look into the differences between each type of over-the-counter painkiller.


You might be wondering what is an acetaminophen; this drug is commonly known as paracetamol, which is often used to treat fever and pain. We usually take paracetamol when we only experience a slight pain in our body, such as headaches. In some cases, paracetamol is also used for severe pain, such as cancer pain and pain after surgery. Interestingly, paracetamol does not only come in the form of a tablet or capsule; some acetaminophen is injected into a vein.

Many people consider paracetamol as one of the most common drugs to treat light fever and pain. It is widely used in different places, which proves it being safe – only at recommended doses. Without proper doses, taking paracetamol could lead to health problems, such as liver failure. One thing to take note about acetaminophen is that it doesn’t have any significant anti-inflammatory activity.


Unlike paracetamol, ibuprofen is known for its anti-inflammatory effects in the body. It is included in the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) category. The uses of ibuprofen are a lot more complex than paracetamol; this drug is effective for treating pain, fever, and inflammation, which includes menstrual periods, migraines, and arthritis. When you take ibuprofen, you might feel its effects within an hour.

Ibuprofen is an effective drug to help ease pain, but it is not recommended to be used in high doses. Too much consumption of ibuprofen could lead various medical conditions, such as heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure. Also, if you are an asthmatic person, it is not best to take ibuprofen since it could worsen the effects of asthma.


Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, is another common drug to reduce pain. It is effective in treating fever, pain, and inflammation, as well as other specific inflammatory conditions. Kawasaki disease, pericarditis, and rheumatic fever: these are inflammatory diseases which could be cured by taking aspirin. Unlike ibuprofen, aspirin could help prevent heart attacks, ischaemic strokes, and blood clots. If you take aspirin, it could take effect as fast as thirty minutes.

Like other painkillers, aspirin also has side effects to our body. Stomach problems are the most common effect of aspirin; it could lead to an upset stomach, stomach ulcers, and stomach bleeding. Another effect of taking aspirin is it could worsen a person’s asthma, just like ibuprofen. Aspirin is a strong drug that could take effect in our body in just minutes, but always be mindful of the proper dosage to avoid its harmful side effects.


Naproxen is another pain medication that is categorized as a NSAID. Like other drugs of its kind, we can use Naproxen to cure menstrual cramps, inflammatory diseases, and fever. Its healing effects are also incredible and could take action within an hour, which lasts for up to twelve hours. Naproxen is a famous anti-inflammatory drug in the United States with over eleven million prescriptions. Many people use this over-the-counter medicine because of its availability and strong healing effects.

However, Naproxen also has its disadvantages. Like other anti-inflammatory drugs, this medicine shows adverse side effects to our body; these include dizziness, headache, bruising, allergic reactions, heartburn, and stomach pain. High doses of naproxen could increase the risk of heart diseases; it could also contribute to other health problems, such as stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney problems, and stomach ulcers. So, when taking naproxen, always be mindful of the right dosage to avoid further health risks.