Q&A: Aspirin vs. Acetaminophen

Q: Is there a difference between aspirin and acetaminophen?

A: 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.