The Best Pill For Your Aches and Pains
Source: Men's Health
Looking for a pill that’ll protect against heart failure, prevent cancer, and safeguard your skin? Stock up on aspirin. Research published in this week’s issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that a regular dose of aspirin could help men who have been treated for prostate cancer live longer.
But for all the great benefits that aspirin brings, it isn’t always the right pill for your everyday aches and pains.
When you think of over-the-counter meds, the main categories are acetaminophen (Tylenol), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), says Mary Lynn McPherson, Pharm.D., a professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
All will lower your fever, but some help your symptoms more than others, she explains. So to put an end to your confusion, follow these simple guidelines for choosing which pill to pop when you feel pain. (Discover hundreds more doctor-approved, do-it-yourself fixes for every injury imaginable in The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies.)
The Issue: You rolled your ankle playing basketball
The half-life for ibuprofen is about 6 hours, says McPherson. So if the sprain isn’t causing excruciating pain, take an Advil or Motrin. By choosing either one over Tylenol, you’re reaping both pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory rewards. Any time you have something red and hot like a joint, NSAIDs are the way to go, McPherson says.
The Issue: That nagging headache is back
If it’s just a regular headache, acetaminophen is fine, says McPherson. But if you have a past history with liver disease, then take it with caution, since too much acetaminophen can lead to liver damage. (Heavy drinkers, take note.)
Naproxen’s half-life is about 12 hours, which means it beats out the shorter-lasting ibuprofen for especially painful joints, says McPherson.
The Issue: You’ve got a head-splitting migraine
Since side effects tend to get worse when a headache grows into a migraine—think nausea, vomiting, throbbing pain, or sensitivity to light—you’ll need more than a basic painkiller to cure it. Your move: Reach for an Excedrin, which contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine all in one tablet, McPherson says. (Sometimes you don’t even need meds to ease your pain. Learn The Pill-Free Headache Fix.)