Popping the facts on our pain relief pills

By Staff Writer • Published: April 28th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When our body aches, we pop an Advil or Tylenol to make ourselves feel better. But what exactly are we taking, and what problems do these pills really help? Does it matter if we take the brand name or a generic … and are any of the myths we hear true?

Tylenol and Advil are the brand names for two types of painkillers: acetaminophen and ibuprofen, respectively. Both of the pills can treat headaches, body aches, menstrual cramps and sore throats, but each pill treats certain types of pain better. Family health experts at the Cleveland Clinic compared the two and found that acetaminophen is better at easing headache and arthritis pain, while ibuprofen is better at treating menstrual cramps, fever and inflammation. Why do they treat pain differently? Advil, or ibuprofen, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which means it helps reduce swelling. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, isn’t, so it doesn’t have anti-swelling properties.

Despite all the pain they help relieve, both pills have negative effects that consumers should be aware of. Too much Tylenol at once can harm your liver permanently, and Advil’s potential side effects include stomach ulcers. Some people react better to taking one type of pain reliever than the other, so find out which one works for you.

One of the most common myths surrounding Tylenol is that the pill can help cure a hangover. Unfortunately, Tylenol cannot cure a hangover. In fact, the combination of acetaminophen and alcohol can be toxic to your liver, so don’t take a painkiller in hopes to avoid a hangover-induced headache.

Do your research on painkillers and know the side effects. After all, they’re wonderful to cure a headache, but you don’t want to hurt yourself by taking too many of them.