Paracetamol(acetaminophen) and ibuprofen are two of the most commonly used over-the-counter medicines to treat pain and fever due to their availability and wide range of uses. Because of this, these medications are regularly taken incorrectly, unnecessarily, or unsafely. The main difference is ibuprofen reduces inflammation, whereas paracetamol does not. Paracetamol and ibuprofen are painkillers; they take away pain symptoms. They have different mechanisms of action and different drug interactions. 

Paracetamol is a painkiller used to treat aches and pains and reduce fevers. The exact mechanism of action of Paracetamol is as yet unconfirmed. However, the most accepted theory is that paracetamol reduces the brain’s pain signals and prevents the release of pain-causing chemicals (prostaglandins) that produce pain and fever. 

Paracetamol should reduce pain caused by a toothache, headaches, and joint and muscle pain – such as mild arthritis pain. Side effects that occur due to taking paracetamol are rare, but the most common side effects of paracetamol are allergic reactions, blood disorders or heart irregularities. Paracetamol is available in various forms; it is most commonly taken as a 500mg capsule or 500 mg tablet; however, it can be taken as a liquid for children and can even be given intravenously in hospitals. It is safe for children to take paracetamol at the appropriate dose.

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug. It blocks the body’s production of these chemicals (prostaglandins) to reduce pain and fever. 

Ibuprofen is available in several forms: capsules, tablets, sprays, and creams. Ibuprofen gel is famous for back pain and muscle pains, as they provide effective local pain relief. Ibuprofen can cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and flatulence. If you experience severe side effects, such as changes to your stool, blood in bodily fluids, or swelling or breathing difficulties, speak to a doctor immediately.

Unlike paracetamol, not everyone can take ibuprofen. People who should avoid taking ibuprofen are those suffering from a stomach ulcer, allergic to other NSAIDs, suffering from heart failure, chickenpox or shingles, Crohn’s disease, or liver disease patients. 

You can take ibuprofen and paracetamol simultaneously or space them apart, although ibuprofen is best taken with food or after you have eaten. However, children under 16 should not be given these medicines together unless they have been told to do so by a healthcare practitioner.