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Tylenol and Advil: What's the Difference?

Tylenol and Advil: What’s the Difference?

Tylenol and Advil are brand names that more often than not frequent every medicine cabinet. We have all taken at least one of these common medications at least a few times in our lives, and for many of us, they are used interchangeably to deal with common aches and pains or the flu. However, while these medications have similar purposes, they have key differences that are useful to be aware of when treating your ailments.

Tylenol is made up of the drug acetaminophen, which is categorized as a non-opioid analgesic and antipyretic agent. Meanwhile, Advil is made up of the drug ibuprofen, which is categorized as a NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Both are over-the-counter medications used to treat fevers or minor pains. The way both of these drugs work is by blocking the enzymes needed to make prostaglandins, which are chemicals in the body that trigger pain and fever. While both of these drugs work very similarly, this is where the similarities end. Acetaminophen only blocks these enzymes in the brain, while ibuprofen does this in both the brain and the rest of the body. This, along with ibuprofen’s status as a NSAID, is what accounts for the main difference in the purpose of the two drugs. Ibuprofen helps reduce inflammation for physical injuries while acetaminophen does not. This means that if you’re dealing with an injury that causes any sort of swelling, Advil will be the more helpful option over Tylenol.

Other differences lie in the potential side effects each of these drugs have. Differences in the side effects of the two drugs include ibuprofen potentially causing kidney damage, ulcers, and bleeding. Meanwhile, acetaminophen potentially causes liver damage and irritations on the skin through rashes, hives, redness, etc.

Despite Tylenol and Advil often being used for the same purposes, it is important to be aware of their several differences in order to choose which one is most suitable for your ailments. Advil, being made up of ibuprofen and thus having anti-inflammatory properties, makes it more effective than Tylenol in situations where swelling is present. Furthermore, keeping note of the differences in side effects is beneficial for looking after your health going forwards.


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