What are Aspirin and Ibuprofen?
Both are common Over The Counter (OTC) drugs, which means they are easily available from a chemist without any medical prescription. However, this makes the patients believe that these drugs are totally safe, which is not true. Therefore, proper knowledge about usage, dosage, side effects and interaction with other drugs is essential. Both belong to the same category known as NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). Aspirin apart from this has a reputation for its anti-platelet action.
While technically both the drugs act as painkillers, Ibuprofen is more popular as a painkiller in comparison to aspirin, proving to be effective in cases ranging from mild to severe pains due to arthritis, toothaches, muscular pains and menstrual cramps. Inside the body, ibuprofen blocks the enzymes which send the pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the pain.
Aspirin is one of the oldest known painkillers to man, however, it is more commonly used as an anticoagulant, or in common man’s terms “to thin the blood”. It does this job by inhibiting the ability of blood platelets to clump together, thus preventing the formation of a clot. Someone who has suffered a stroke or heart attack is very likely to find a regular dosage of aspirin in his/her prescription. Aspirin is used as a painkiller for mild cases of headaches, migraine, and fever, but is unsuccessful in curing pains caused by muscle cramps, bloating and skin irritation.
Talking about the side effects of these drugs, the two have similarities as well as differences. Both can cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract. It is advisable that these two should not be taken empty stomach. Doctors recommend that at least a light snack should be taken prior to ingesting these medicines. On ignoring the advice the patients should not be surprised if they have a heartburn or an upset stomach.
Rare side effects of ibuprofen include intestinal and stomach ulcers perforated ulcers and bleeding ulcers, all of which may prove to be fatal. Aspirin overdose can also cause excessive stomach bleeding, which may have some serious consequences. Also, if you have a history of high blood pressure, then it is pretty sure that aspirin is going to worsen the problem. Aspirin dosage should be stopped a week prior to any type of surgeries to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding.
Long term effects
Aspirin is commonly prescribed in moderate doses to heart patients on a regular basis as it prevents strokes and heart attacks. Keeping in mind the risk of high blood pressure, this therapy is applied to only those patients who have already suffered a stroke or heart attack. Long term dosage of aspirin has also been proven to have anti-cancer effects on the body.
However, the less ibuprofen you use, the better it is for you. The best way to determine your dosage for ibuprofen is to use it in the least amount possible for the least number of times. Ibuprofen causes strain on the liver and kidney. So patients with a history of liver or renal problems should avoid it, or seek medical advice before using it. Long term intake of ibuprofen may even lead to a development of renal problems. Ibuprofen has also known to contribute towards heart attacks.
Combination with other medicines
Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken together as ibuprofen renders passive the anti-coagulating action of aspirin.
Aspirin should not be administered along with alcohol intake as it increases the risk of stomach bleeding and should not be used by patients using antidepressants as it may lead to excessive thinning of the blood. While taking medicines for viral infections or influenza (common cold), intake should be absolutely stopped as it may lead to a rare but potentially lethal disease of the liver known as Reye’s Syndrome, which damages the liver and the brain.