Pain Pills


Problem HeadacheRx Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin)

The fine print A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), aspirin halts the production of prostaglandins, inflammation- and pain-triggering chemicals. Aspirin can irritate your stomach, so anyone with a history of ulcers should not use this medication.

Problem Menstrual cramps or sports injuries

Rx Naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB)

The fine print NSAIDs naproxen and ibuprofen inhibit the same pain-producing chemicals as aspirin, but naproxen lasts longer, so it's a better solution for prolonged pain. A single dose typically offers up to 12 hours of relief.

Problem Fever

Rx Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

The fine print It won't help swelling, but acetaminophen stops fever-causing prostaglandins. Yet since it's found in so many products, it's easy to take too much--and cause liver damage. If you're on other meds, read the labels to ensure you don't exceed 4,000 mg in 24 hours.

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