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Ibuprofen or paracetamol?

Latest buying habits suggest ibuprofen is the preferred medicine.
Latest buying habits suggest ibuprofen is the preferred medicine. / SUR
  • Experts have warned against taking these two common painkillers without being sure of the side effects they can cause

On numerous occasions we use medication without even trying other methods that could relieve and alleviate our pain and suffering to the same degree.

“There is a natural tendency to use medicines as a first port of call. They are the quickest way to relieve pain, but a lot of the time other activities such as relaxing or eating are equally sufficient remedies when, for example, you have a headache,” said Dr Antonio Torres, from the scientific-medical society SemFYC (Sociedad Española de Medicina de Familia y Comunitaria).

“Ibuprofen is just one of these drugs that we tend to take without adequate medical knowledge. Medicines are not without risk and some people do not know how to take them. Today I was speaking with a person whose 70-year-old mother was taking five ibuprofens a day,” the specialist added.

Paloma Casado, who works in medicine management at the Spanish company of primary care physicians, SEMERGEN, maintains that there is an excessive consumption of ibuprofen in today’s society.

“Ibuprofen is taken more frequently than paracetamol nowadays, and the typical daily dose has also gone from 650mg to one gramme. It also has something to do with culture, as everyone wants to take the most powerful thing to make the pain go away as quickly as possible,” she stated.

Since ibuprofen is “quite effective”, Casado believes that our buying habits are changing, with more people now opting to purchase ibuprofen. However, she also highlights there is also a lack of knowledge regarding its side effects on the stomach, for example.

“Just like all anti-inflammatories it can cause gastritis and can affect the kidney. Studies were carried out nearly two years ago which showed that taking too many ibuprofens and anti-inflammatories increases cardiovascular risk,” Casado declared.

She therefore believes it is important to take ibuprofen with a stomach protector, especially for those people who suffer gastric problems, or after eating.

Antonio Torres warned that neither ibuprofen nor paracetamol are medicines that “can be taken lightly”. “Paracetamol has a very well-established safety profile but that does not mean that there are no risks involved. It is a drug that above a certain dose can cause damage to the liver,” he added.

Torres also warned that although it is thought that paracetamol is not as strong as ibuprofen, that is “not the case”.

He pointed out that the “big difference” that exists between the two is that ibuprofen has an anti-inflammatory quality that paracetamol doesn’t, which not only relieves the symptoms, but also the cause of the pain, which, for example, could be a wisdom tooth or a sore throat.

Both specialists stated that medication should only be taken after seeking medical advice given that doctors are the best placed to guide.