- Surprising Reasons You're in Pain Slideshow
- Take the Pain Quiz
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- Aspirin vs. Tylenol (acetaminophen): What's the difference?
- What is Aspirin? What is Tylenol (acetaminophen)?
- What are the side effects of aspirin and Tylenol?
- What is the dosage of aspirin vs. Tylenol?
- What drugs interact with aspirin and Tylenol?
- Are aspirin and Tylenol safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding?
Aspirin vs. Tylenol (acetaminophen): What's the difference?
- Aspirin and Tylenol (acetaminophen) are used to treat fever, and pain in the body.
- Aspirin is also used to prevent blood clots (antithrombotic).
- Aspirin and Tylenol belong to different drug classes. Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and Tylenol is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer).
- Brand names for aspirin include Bayer Aspirin, Ecotrin, and E.C. Prin.
- Aspirin and Tylenol are available over-the-counter (OTC) and as generics.
- Side effects of aspirin and Tylenol that are similar include rash, nausea, and liver toxicity.
- Side effects of aspirin that are different from Tylenol include abdominal pain, abdominal burning, cramping, gastritis, stomach ulcers, ringing in the ears, dizziness, serious gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney impairment, and spinning sensation (vertigo).
- Side effects of Tylenol that are different from aspirin include headache.
What is Aspirin? What is Tylenol (acetaminophen)?
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation in the body. Aspirin is also used prevent blood clots (as an antithrombotic). Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), and nabumetone (Relafen). NSAIDs work to reduce levels of prostaglandins, chemicals that are released when inflammation is present that cause pain and fever. NSAIDs block a certain enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting lower concentrations of prostaglandins and reducing inflammation, pain, and fever. Inhibition of prostaglandins also decreases the function of platelets and the blood’s clotting ability. Because aspirin inhibits the function of platelets for prolonged periods of time, it is also used to lower the risk of another stroke or heart attack in people who have had a prior stroke or heart attack.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer). The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is unknown. It may reduce the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling. Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before a person feels it. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. Specifically, it tells the center to lower the body's temperature when the temperature is elevated.
What are the side effects of aspirin and Tylenol?
Most patients benefit from aspirin and other NSAIDs with few side effects. However, serious side effects can occur and generally tend to be dose-related. Therefore, it is advisable to use the lowest effective dose to minimize side effects.
The most common side effects of aspirin involve the gastrointestinal system and ringing in the ears.
Gastrointestinal side effects are
- abdominal burning,
- gastritis, and
- even serious gastrointestinal bleeding and
- liver toxicity.
Ringing in the ears
- Should ringing in the ears occur, the daily dose should be reduced.
Other side effects include:
Other side effects and adverse reactions
- Aspirin should be avoided by patients with peptic ulcer disease or poor kidney function, since this medication can aggravate both conditions.
- Aspirin may exacerbate asthma.
- Aspirin can raise the blood uric acid level and is avoided in patients with hyperuricemia and gout.
- Children and teenagers should avoid aspirin for symptoms of the flu or chickenpox because of the associated risk of Reye's Syndrome, a serious disease of the liver and nervous system that can lead to coma and death.
- Aspirin can increase the effect of medicines used to treat diabetes mellitus, resulting in abnormally low blood sugars if blood sugar levels are not monitored.
- NSAIDs should be discontinued prior to elective surgery because of a mild tendency to interfere with blood clotting. Aspirin, because of its prolonged effect on platelets, is best discontinued at least ten to fourteen days in advance of the procedure.
When used appropriately, side effects with acetaminophen are not common.
The most common side effects are rash, nausea, and headache.
Other important side effects include:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Serious skin reactions
- Kidney damage
- Reduced number of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia)
Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of stomach bleeding. The most serious side effect is liver damage due to large doses, chronic use or concomitant use with alcohol or other drugs that also damage the liver.
Other serious side effects that have been reported include bleeding in the intestines and stomach, angioedema, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and kidney damage. A reduction in the number of white blood cells has also been reported.
Latest Chronic Pain News
Daily Health News
What is the dosage of aspirin vs. Tylenol?
Aspirin should be taken with food. Doses range from 50 mg to 6000 mg daily depending on the use.
- Usual doses for mild to moderate pain are 350 or 650 mg every 4 hours or 500 mg every 6 hours.
- Doses for rheumatoid arthritis include 500 mg every 4-6 hours; 650 mg every 4 hours; 1000 mg every 4-6 hours; 1950 mg twice daily.
- Heart attacks are prevented with 75, 81, 162 or 325 mg daily.
- 160 to 325 mg of non-enteric coated aspirin should be chewed immediately when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.
- The dose for preventing another stroke is 75 to 100 mg daily.
- The dose for adults is 325 to 650 mg every 4 hours or 500 mg every 8 hours when using immediate release formulations.
- The dose for extended release caplet is 1300 mg every 8 hours.
- The maximum daily dose is 4 grams.
- The oral dose for a child is based on the child's age and weight. If less than 12 years of age, the dosing is 10-15 mg/kg every 6-8 hours not to exceed 2.6 g/day (5 doses).
- If older than 12 years of age the dose is 40-60 mg/kg/day every 6 hours not to exceed 3.75 g/day (5 doses).
What drugs interact with aspirin and Tylenol?
Aspirin is associated with several suspected or probable interactions that affect the action of other drugs. The following examples are the most common of the suspected interactions.
Aspirin may reduce the blood pressure lowering effects of blood pressure medications. This may occur because prostaglandins have a role in the regulation of blood pressure.
When aspirin is used in combination with methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) or aminoglycoside antibiotics (for example, gentamicin) the blood levels of the methotrexate or aminoglycoside may increase, presumably because their elimination from the body is reduced. This may lead to more methotrexate or aminoglycoside-related side effects.
Individuals taking oral blood thinners or anticoagulants, for example, warfarin, (Coumadin) should avoid aspirin because aspirin also thins the blood, and excessive blood thinning may lead to serious bleeding.
Acetaminophen is metabolized (eliminated by conversion to other chemicals) by the liver. Therefore drugs that increase the action of liver enzymes that metabolize acetaminophen, [for example, carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid, rifampin (Rifamate, Rifadin, and Rimactane),] reduce the levels of acetaminophen and may decrease the effectiveness action of acetaminophen.
Doses of acetaminophen greater than the recommended doses are toxic to the liver and may result in severe liver damage. The potential for acetaminophen to harm the liver is increased when it is combined with alcohol or drugs that also harm the liver.
Cholestyramine (Questran) reduces the effect of acetaminophen by decreasing its absorption into the body from the intestine. Therefore, acetaminophen should be administered 3 to 4 hours after cholestyramine or one hour before cholestyramine .
Acetaminophen doses greater than 2275 mg per day may increase the blood thinning effect of warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) by an unknown mechanism. Therefore, prolonged administration or large doses of acetaminophen should be avoided during warfarin therapy.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Are aspirin and Tylenol safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding?
Aspirin is excreted into breast milk and may cause adverse effects in the infant.
Acetaminophen is excreted in breast milk in small quantities. However, acetaminophen use by the nursing mother appears to be safe
Pain Management Resources
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Pain: Why Does My Head Ache?
Find out what's behind your headache, and get some strategies to bring you relief for your pain.
Pain Management: 15 Easy Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be a symptom of many conditions, including arthritis, headaches, and others. Comprehensive chronic pain...
Back Pain Quiz: Test Your Back Pain IQ
There are numerous causes of chronic lower back pain and only one ailment gets more complaints. What is it? Quiz your knowledge...
Pain Quiz: Test Your IQ of Pain
Is pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we...
Picture of Blood Clot
Blood that has been converted from a liquid to a solid state. See a picture of Blood Clot and learn more about the health topic.
Related Disease Conditions
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT, Blood Clot in the Legs)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins, and can be caused by broken bones, trauma to a limb, immobility, medications, smoking, cancer, genetic predisposition, and cancer. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis in a leg are swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth, and pain. Treatments for DVT include medications and surgery.
Blood Clots (in the Leg)
Blood clots can occur in the venous and arterial vascular system. Blood clots can form in the heart, legs, arteries, veins, bladder, urinary tract and uterus. Risk factors for causes of blood clots include high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and family history. Symptoms of a blood clot depend on the location of the clot. Some blood clots are a medical emergency. Blood clots are treated depending upon the cause of the clot. Blood clots can be prevented by lowering the risk factors for developing blood clots.
Tylenol Liver Damage
Tylenol liver damage (acetaminophen) can occur from accidentally ingesting too much acetaminophen, or intentionally. Signs and symptoms of acetaminophen-induced liver damage may include: nauseau, vomiting, kidney failure, bleeding disorders, coma, and death. Acetaminophen is a drug contained in over 200 OTC and prescription medications from NyQuil to Vicodin. Avoiding unintentional overdoses include reading medication labels, write down the dosages of medications you are taking, do not drink excessive alcohol while taking acetaminophen. In severe cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.
Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung)
A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a piece of a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks off and travels to an artery in the lung where it blocks the artery and damages the lung. The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heart rate. Causes of pulmonary embolism include prolonged immobilization, certain medications, smoking, cancer, pregnancy, and surgery. Pulmonary embolism can cause death if not treated promptly.
Pain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Some causes of neuropathic pain include: complex regional pain syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. There are a variety of methods to treat chronic pain, which are dependant on the type of pain experienced.
Laryngitis Home Remedies
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. Inflammation of the larynx is most often caused by viral infections, and have symptoms such as sore throat, cough, problems swallowing, and fever. The voice changes produced by laryngitis may last after the fever and other symptoms of the acute infection has gone away. The best natural home remedy to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by laryngitis include resting your voice and breathing humidified air often. Turning on hot water in the bathroom and then sitting in the steam can soothe and relive laryngitis symptoms. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) can relieve pain and inflammation caused by laryngitis. Don't give children aspirin to infants, toddlers, children and teens because of the risk of developing Reye's syndrome, which can be fatal. Home remedies like resting your voice and sitting in humidified air can cure laryngitis. Medications like anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can relieve and soothe pain and symptoms caused by laryngitis.
Chronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
Why Would You Not Remove a Foreign Object From an Open Cut?
In open cuts, the foreign body may not be removed immediately if it could harm the blood vessels or nerves. Sometimes, a foreign body is stuck in the wound, which also stops the blood from spurting out. Such a deeply embedded foreign body must only be treated by a physician.
What Are the 7 More Dangerous Medicines to Mix?
Some drug interactions can have serious side effects, while others may be lethal. You should avoid dangerous drug mistakes like mixing alcohol and opioids, warfarin and acetaminophen and few others.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Back Pain FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- Heart Health- Little Aspirin A Day Stops Big Heart Attack!
- Heart Disease & Stroke - Progress
- tissue valve and taking aspirin?
- Gout & Aspirin
- Diabetes - An Aspirin A Day
- When Should I Give a Child Tylenol for Fever?
- Does Aspirin Make Ulcers Worse?
- What Are the Side Effects of Acetaminophen?
- Does Aspirin Cause Gout?
- Ibuprofen May Block Aspirin's Heart Benefits
Medications & Supplements
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen for Pain (Differences in Side Effects and Dosage)
- aspirin suppository - rectal
- aspirin gum - oral, Aspergum
- Norgesic (orphenadrine citrate, aspirin and caffeine)
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.