Compare These NSAIDS: Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and Naproxen

The over-the-counter pain relief aisle can be a little daunting, especially if you aren’t sure which one is best for your ailment. There are extra strength, liquid gels, day time, night time, and enough options to make that current headache worse. Ibuprofen and naproxen are all part of the same class of medications, known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These medications are generally safe as long as they’re taken as directed. This class of medications are often used to reduce common pain like headaches, cramps, fevers and swelling.


As one of the better known NSAIDS, ibuprofen, brands such as Advil or Motrin, may be used for the treatment of inflammation, moderate pain and fever. It may also be used to help treat menstrual cramps and various forms of arthritis. The recommended dose is 200mg or 400mg every four to six hours. However, for arthritis you may need to treat with a slightly higher dose of 300mg to 800mg three or four times daily. If pain persists for more than three days, speak with your physician.


Acetaminophen, brands such as Tylenol, 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. Acetaminophen is also an analgesic, like aspirin, so it's commonly used for headaches and pain. Unless directed by a physician, acetaminophen should not be used for more than 10 days. For adults, the usual dose is 325mg to 650mg every four hours; however, older adults and those with liver disease should check with their physician for appropriate dosing.

The oral dose for children is based on the child’s age and weight. Learn more about proper dosages for children before treating them with acetaminophen.


This drug helps with headaches, joint pain and muscle soreness. It's especially effective as an anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis, sprains, sunburns and other inflammation-based pain. The recommended dose for naproxen, brands such as Aleve, is 250mg every six to eight hours, or two 500mg tablets twice a day. To avoid an upset stomach, naproxen should be taken with food.

Use caution when taking NSAIDS if you currently have heart disease, other cardiac conditions or are prone to stomach ulcers. You should consult with your pharmacist about taking new medications. Confirm information about appropriate dosages, interactions with current medications and which medications should be taken with food. Talk to your physician if over-the-counter medications aren’t working.