Aspirin Vs. Acetaminophen: What’s The Difference?

A spilled glass aspirin bottleIs there really a difference between aspirin and acetaminophen?

Aspirin Basics

Aspirin is a medication that is commonly used to treat different types of mild pain, including headaches. When taken, aspirin is absorbed into the bloodstream and reacts with certain chemicals in the blood to reduce the substances in the body that are causing the pain. Because it also helps reduce inflammation and heat, aspirin is also useful in lowering fevers and to ease minor muscle aches. In the past few years, aspirin has also been shown effective as a part of the treatment regimen for heart disease because of its ability to thin the blood and allow it to flow more freely through the body. Unfortunately, aspirin does have side effects; it can cause upset stomach, heartburn, and indigestion, it’s generally not recommended for use in children, and shouldn’t be used in some patients who have bleeding disorders.

Acetaminophen Basics

Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is a medicine that works much like aspirin, but still has a few differences. It also lowers fevers and helps with headaches, like aspirin, but it does not treat the inflammation that can occur with muscle sprains or arthritis. However, acetaminophen is less irritating to the stomach than aspirin, and usually does not cause as many side effects in the digestive tract as aspirin does. Acetaminophen is safer for children and people with bleeding disorders as well. People should be cautioned however, that taking acetaminophen in high doses can damage the liver. Because it is found in many over-the-counter combination products, patients should be extra cautious to make sure that they are not taking above the daily recommended dose (4000 mg per day) without consulting their physician or pharmacist.

By Dr. Crystal Riley

A graduate of the Howard University School of Pharmacy, Dr. Crystal A. Riley has spent the majority of her career involved in drug information services for not only healthcare organizations and practitioners, but for patients as well. While her career has shifted towards researching healthcare policy and quality standards, Dr. Riley still actively seeks opportunities to keep patients informed and aware of medication-related issues to help improve their overall quality of life.

Top Questions To Ask Your Pharmacist

african american pharmacist(BlackDoctor.org) — When getting a new prescription filled, it is always helpful to take a little time to speak with the pharmacist about your new medication. There is a lot of information floating around about prescription drugs, and it can sometimes be difficult to decipher it on your own.

Yes, a lot of helpful information can be found in the patient information included with the medication, but it is always helpful to ask questions to an actual human as well.

Here are a few important questions to ask the pharmacist that will help get your therapy off to a great start.

What is this medication for?

Not only does this question ensure that the physician wrote the correct prescription for your condition, but it also helps make sure that the pharmacist filled the prescription with the right medication. A very common mistake in filling a prescription occurs when two medication names look alike or sound alike. These kinds of mistakes can easily be caught at the time of consultation. Chances are, the pharmacist won’t try to diagnose you at the counter. But they can let you know what the medication is commonly used for. By getting a consultation, you will find out which medication you are getting and you can catch the pharmacist’s mistake in case you are being dispensed the wrong medicine.

When should I take this medication?

It may not seem very important, but medication timing can be crucial with some drugs. There are some medications that can prevent you from sleeping well at night, that can make you drowsy during the day, or even make you go to the bathroom more frequently. Timing can be very important to maintain minimal interruption to your daily routine.

What are the side effects for this medication?

It is important to be aware of any adverse effects that may be caused by your new medication. While some side effects may be commonly reported among people who use a certain medication, it is also important to be able to recognize more serious side effects that may require immediate medical attention. While every person is different and may experience the same thing, it is good to understand what should be expected from a medication, and what occurrences could signal something more urgent.

By Dr. Crystal Riley, BDO Pharmacy Expert

A graduate of the Howard University School of Pharmacy, Dr. Crystal A. Riley has spent the majority of her career involved in drug information services for not only healthcare organizations and practitioners, but for patients as well. While her career has shifted towards researching healthcare policy and quality standards, Dr. Riley still actively seeks opportunities to keep patients informed and aware of medication-related issues to help improve their overall quality of life.