Ibuprofen belongs to a class of meds known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); this drug is widely used for the management of pains. It is also administered for stiffening of muscles caused by autoimmune conditions such as arthritis (inflammation of the lining of your joints) as well as osteoarthritis (breakdown of such lining). On the other hand, acetaminophen is used for treating pains such as migraines, backache, toothache, etc. These two drugs work in their own unique ways to minimize/treat pains. However, can ibuprofen and acetaminophen be taken together? It is important to know more about the co-administration of these drugs prior to starting your treatment to manage pain.

Pains can be of multiple types; some common types of pains include back pain, toothache, headache/migraine, pain in joints, etc. Drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, etc. are widely used as painkilling meds. For moderate levels of pain, your treating doctor may prescribe a drug called acetaminophen.

What is ibuprofen?

The drug belongs to a genre called NSAIDs. It helps block certain types of chemicals that are known to trigger a fever, swelling as well as pains. In general, ibuprofen is administered for the treatment of mild or moderate levels of pain. As an added use, this drug is used to treat pains experienced during menstrual periods (especially, prior to the start of periods as well as during the course of your menstrual cycles). Other standard uses of this drug include muscular pains, migraines, common cold, fever as well as inflammation of joints (owing to conditions such as arthritis or osteoarthritis).

Ibuprofen is also available as a non-prescription / over-the-counter (OTC) drug. The self-medication approach is taken for treating fever, body pains as well as toothaches/back pain. It is usually taken orally. The typical dose is once every 5 hours. In some cases, teens and children are advised to take ibuprofen; in such instances, doses are restricted to 3 dosages within a 24-hour timeline.

What is acetaminophen?

This med is used for the treatment of moderate levels of pain. It is also taken along with opioid drugs to manage the increase in body temperature (fever) as well as common cold/flu. It is commonly taken through the oral route; but, it can also be administered through the intravenous route. The dosage plan of acetaminophen is taken strictly as per the advice of your treating physician. In general, the daily dose is maintained at less than 4000 mg – i.e., within a 24-hour timeline. Also, each dosage is maintained at lesser than 1000 mg. For children aged less than 11 years, a dosage plan is determined based on their body weight.

Some users who took acetaminophen experienced pains in their upper abdomen, severe loss of appetite levels, etc.; upon encountering one or more of these signs, it is advised to consult with your treating doctor without much delay. An overdose of acetaminophen may cause hepatic impairment. So, people living with liver conditions such as cirrhosis or inflammation of the liver (latter is also known as hepatitis) need to inform their caregiving team prior to starting their treatment plan.

Can you take acetaminophen and ibuprofen together?

This combination is used when there is a high level of pain – often, for treating pains such as toothaches, backache, etc. In the case of dental treatment – especially, excision of your wisdom tooth or a root canal procedure, the odds of excruciating pain are very high. Usually, these dental procedures are done under local anesthesia. But, once the effects of anesthetic drugs wear off, you are likely to experience moderate to high levels of pain. In such painful conditions, a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is administered. Dental specialists inform that this combination works much better than many other drugs – say, opioid medications as well as other forms of pain-killing drugs. This combinatorial form is known to reduce pains substantially and brings about needful relief.

In order to manage acute levels of pain, this combination is known to work in the following manner: (1) acetaminophen inhibits the signaling of pain between the central nervous system and the affected part/organ; (2) on the other hand, ibuprofen reduces inflammation and swelling, thus help in keeping the condition under control. This combination is also known to have a few other advantages – as compared to other opioid-based meds. For instance, opioid meds can be habit-forming. Users run the risk of getting addicted to such drugs. Also, opioids may lead to dizziness, extreme levels of drowsiness, the rigidity of muscles, and abdominal conditions such as vomiting or nausea.

However, the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen needs to be taken under the clinical supervision of your caregiving team. In some conditions, the medical team may prescribe opioids instead of this combination. Never be surprised by such prescriptions; your treating doctor knows your condition better, and hence go ahead with your medication plan – as directed by the caregiver.

It is important to stay aware of the side effects this combination may cause. Some users have reported discomforts like ringing inside one’s ears, flatulence or bloating, indigestion or diarrhea. These are minor in nature, and may soon go away – i.e., once your body gets used to key chemicals. But, if you notice a few serious side effects – such as itchiness, rashes on the skin, inflammation of ankles or feet, etc., it is essential to seek medical help on an emergency basis.

In sum, a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is used when pain levels are very high. Such intensive pains may be experienced when you are having a tooth extracted or soon after a root canal procedure. A combination of these two drugs has a few advantages over using opioids for pain management. This combination is not addictive while the use of opioids can lead to possible addiction. Moreover, other forms of pain killers can trigger extreme levels of drowsiness; they can make your muscles turn rigid or may also trigger a few abdominal problems like nausea. Owing to the absence of most of these discomforts, treating doctors prefer to administer a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. It is always important to talk to your treating physician prior to starting a medication plan for managing acute episodes of pain.

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