The odd ache and pain is a fact of life which means that most people have one or other over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers in the medicine cabinet. The question is: which one to choose and why? Especially when people tell you that paracetamol and ibuprofen are the same but different. And different but the same. In this article, we’ll look at the similarities and differences between the two, and why a paracetamol effervescent tablet – like Cipladon – is probably the best option for your medicine chest.
What is the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen?
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen in the United States and Japan, is a mild painkiller (analgesic) and antipyretic which is used to treat moderate pain and fever.1
Scientists still don’t know how paracetamol works. They think it blocks the chemical messengers in the brain that tell us we have pain. They also think that paracetamol stops the production of prostaglandins which are hormones that our body uses to deal with illness and injury.2
Ibuprofen is a medicine that falls into the category of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. It is used to treat redness and swelling (inflammation) as well as for mild to moderate pain and fever. It works by reducing the hormones that cause pain and inflammation.3
What are the main differences between paracetamol and ibuprofen?
The most obvious therapeutic (medicinal) difference between these two OTC painkillers, is that ibuprofen is used to treat inflammation. But, as they say, that’s not all. The table below is a summary of the main differences between paracetamol and ibuprofen, including what they do, where your body metabolises (processes) the medicines, etc.:4,5
|What it does|
|helps relieve pain||✓||✓|
|helps relieve fever||✓||✓|
|helps relieve redness (inflammation)||×||✓|
|Where your body processes the medicine||Liver||Kidneys|
|Can I take it safely –|
|on an empty stomach?||✓||×|
|if I have liver damage?||×||×|
|if I have stomach problems?||✓||×|
|if I am pregnant?||✓||×|
|Possible side effects|
|Nausea and vomiting||×||✓|
|Flatulence (breaking lots of wind)||×||✓|
* About those headaches
Although headaches can be a side effect of ibuprofen, overuse or abuse of either paracetamol or ibuprofen can cause rebound headaches which are actually withdrawal symptoms.6
Which works faster: paracetamol or ibuprofen?
If you take traditional paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets you will have some relief of your pain and fever within half an hour (thirty minutes). However, it usually takes a week or more for the anti-inflammatory benefits of ibuprofen to take effect.7
Effervescent paracetamol tablets work faster
The table above clearly shows the differences between paracetamol and ibuprofen, but more than that, it also shows that it is a generally safer option than ibuprofen. We have also noted that when you take “normal” tablets, both take about the same amount of time to kick in. However, effervescent paracetamol tablets, like Cipladon 500 or 1000 work within 15 minutes8 That’s twice as fast and you can use it for headaches, as we have already mentioned, muscle aches, toothaches, colds, and flu, as well as arthritis.
Choosing the right painkiller
Choosing between paracetamol and ibuprofen will depend on the type of pain, your medical history, and what other medicine you might be taking.9 For example, if you are already taking medicine for a cold, you cannot take paracetamol at the same time. You will also need to take into consideration
- the side effects – outlined in the table above
- the answer to the question, Can I take it safely? Also outlined in the table above
- Whether you might be allergic to any of the ingredients
Our takeaway – Cipladon effervescent paracetamol is best
Bearing in mind that both ibuprofen and paracetamol can be used to treat pain and fever, the comparison between the two drugs shows that paracetamol is generally safe and has fewer side effects than ibuprofen. However, the added advantage of Cipladon is the fizz which means that it relieves pain faster.
Both Cipladon 500 and 1000 dissolve in water to make a fizzy drink which means that children and older people who have difficulty with tablets can take it more easily.
Cipladon 500mg which has a sweetened flavour is easy to give, tastes great, and relieves pain and fever f-f-faster! The fizz works!
Disclaimer: The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.
- Cunha, J P., ed. 2022 Are Acetaminophen and Paracetamol the Same? [Online] Available from <https://www.emedicinehealth.com/are_acetaminophen_and_paracetamol_the_same/article_em.htm> 12/01/2023
- France, N. (Reviewer) 2022 Paracetamol uses, dosage, side effects, warnings, Drugs.com. [Online] Available from <https://www.drugs.com/paracetamol.html> 12/01/2023
- Durbin, K. 2022 (Reviewer) Ibuprofen uses, dosage & side effects, Drugs.com. Drugs.com. [Online] Available from <https://www.drugs.com/ibuprofen.html> 12/01/2023
- Patrick, M. 2022 Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen: What’s the difference?, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. [Online] Available from <https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2022/02/acetaminophen-vs-ibuprofen-difference> 12/01/2023
- Huma, R. and Chaar, M. (Reviewer) 2022 Paracetamol vs. Ibuprofen: What is the difference? , HealthNews. [Online] Available from <https://healthnews.com/family-health/drugs/paracetamol-vs-ibuprofen-what-is-the-difference/> 12/01/2023
- Melinosky, C. (Reviewer) 2021 Rebound headaches: Symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention, WebMD. [Online] Available from <https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/rebound-headaches> 12/01/2023
- Seladi-Schulman, J., Weatherspoon, D. (Reviewer). 2020 How Long Does It Take for Ibuprofen to Kick In? Healthline [Online] Available from <https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-ibuprofen-take-to-work> 17/01/2023
- Dubray C, Maincent P, Milon J.Y., 2021. From the pharmaceutical to the clinical: the case for effervescent paracetamol in pain management. A narrative review. Current Medical Research and Opinion. [Online] Available from <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33819115/ > 17/01/2023
Conaway, B., Zelman, D (Reviewer) 2015Which OTC Pain Reliever Is Right for You? WebMD. [Online] Available from <https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/features/choosing-an-otc-pain-reliever> 17/01/2023