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July 12, 2016

How to choose the right pain reliever

For many of us, entering our 50s means greater freedom and more opportunities to try new things. It can also entail adopting a new lifestyle to stay healthy and to better prepare for any changes in our physical condition. 

Losing weight, quitting smoking and getting in shape are some of the bigger changes we can make to maintain a good quality of life. But it’s also possible to make small adjustments, for example to our diet, or to the over-the-counter drugs we choose to take when the need arises.

Did you know there are big differences among pain relievers? 

When it comes to pain relievers, some medications are more suitable than others, particularly if you have a special health condition, such as high blood pressure. Find out which product may be most appropriate for you.  

Acetaminophen
(e.g.: TYLENOL®)

Ibuprofen
(e.g. ADVIL®, MOTRIN®)

Naproxen Sodium
(e.g. ALEVE®, MOTRIMAX 12 HOURTM)

Generally the #1 doctor- recommended choice for patients with high blood pressure, heart disease or heart failure. 

If you have high blood pressure, heart disease or heart failure,  speak to your doctor or pharmacist before use. 

The US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Acetaminophen is gentle on the stomach.

If you have an ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, you should not take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.§, α  

You should not use naproxen sodium if you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease. α 

Acetaminophen may be a suitable choice for certain people at increased risk of adverse events from analgesic use. This includes seniors and people taking multiple prescription drugs.*

If you have or have had asthma, speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using naproxen sodium. α

You should not take ibuprofen if you have been diagnosed with asthma. §

Acetaminophen may be a suitable choice for certain people at increased risk of adverse events from analgesic use, including people with asthma.* If you are 65+ years old, use caution if taking ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.§, α   

Taking too much acetaminophen can increase the risk of serious liver damage.

Do not use acetaminophen if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages a day or if you have liver damage.

Avoid taking more than one product with acetaminophen at a time.    

If you have serious kidney or liver disease, you should not use ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.§, α 

Important!

This table does not contain complete product information and is not a substitute for the product labelling or medical advice provided by a healthcare professional.

If you have any of the conditions listed in this table, if you have experienced changes in your health, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking blood thinners or other drugs or if you have a special diet, speak with your doctor or pharmacist to find the right non-prescription pain medication for you. 

3 tips for responsible pain relief

  1. Always read and follow the medicine labels to ensure any drug product is right for you.
  2. Take only 1 medicine at a time containing acetaminophen. 
  3. Do not take more than the recommended dose for any non-prescription or prescription medication. 

Pharmacy services

When it comes to medications, your family pharmacists  are the experts. If you have any questions about prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins or natural health products, just ask!

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm451800.htm
§Health Canada approved ADVIL® Product Monograph. Accessed May 18, 2016.
αHealth Canada approved ALEVE® Product Monograph. Accessed May 18, 2016.

​*Health Canada approved Prescribing Information document for TYLENOL® (2011). On file at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc.
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