What’s the difference between ibuprofen and aspirin?

If you’re reading this article, then you must be feeling some sort of a pain somewhere. Is it a headache? A muscle ache perhaps? Look no further! We’ve got you covered with the two most common over-the-counter pain relievers – ibuprofen and aspirin. But let’s face it, these two medications are not all sunshine and rainbows they both come with risks that you need to consider before popping them like candy.


Ibuprofen and aspirin belong to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They work by blocking the production of certain chemicals in your body that cause inflammation, fever, and pain (1). Both drugs are widely used for their analgesic (pain relief), antipyretic (fever reduction), and anti-inflammatory properties (2). However, despite their similarities, there are some significant differences between these two medications.

History Lesson: The Origins

Aspirin was first synthesized in 1897 from salicylic acid found in willow bark. It is one of the oldest known analgesics still used today (3). On the other hand, ibuprofen is relatively new compared to aspirin as it was first marketed only in 1969 under various trade names such as Advil or Motrin® (4).

Dosage: How Much Can You Take?

Taking too much of any medication can be dangerous so knowing how much to take is important for safety reasons.


The standard adult dose for pain relief ranges from 325 mg every four hours up to 1000 mg at once but should never exceed more than 4000mg/day (5) .For heart attack prevention doses typically range from 75mg-160mg daily (6).


Ibuprofen, however only requires smaller doses than aspirin. The maximum adult dose for ibuprofen is 800mg every four hours but should never exceed more than 3200mg/day (7). Consulting a doctor before consuming high dosages of this medication is recommended(8).

Pain Relief: Which One Works Better?

Result wise both medicines offer temporary relief from pain but with different levels of effectiveness depending on the type and intensity of the pain.


Aspirin commonly used to treat mild pains such as headaches, menstrual cramps, toothaches etc., can be combined with other medications such as caffeine or acetaminophen (5) in order to enhance its effectivity.(9)


However, when it comes to moderate-to-severe pain like back pain or fever ibuprofen has shown better results compared to aspirin due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties that provide quick relieve (10)(11).

Common Risks And Side Effects Of Taking NSAIDs

Whether you are popping pills left and right without prescription guidance or taking them according a short term medical recommendation there still are risks. Below mentioned are few common side effects encountered due consumption of both these drugs:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Ringing in ears

It’s advised that prolonged use or excessive intake could lead severe symptoms mentioned below

  • Bleeding (GI)
  • Kidney failure
  • Hepatitis
    you don’t want any part these serious health problems ,do you? So take your meds carefully (12)!

But Wait ! Are Both Medications Suitable For Everyone?

Definitely not! Given their wide availability OTCs may vaguely indicate that anyone can consume them. But actually numerous factors determine whether someone an individual is fit enough to consume them or not.


Aspirin is generally considered safe for most people. However, certain groups of individuals should avoid it entirely due to its blood thinning effects it increases risk of bleeding :

  • Children younger than 16
  • People with ulcers in their stomach or intestines
  • Individuals who are allergic to salicylates

Moreover, those who have a history of kidney disorders high blood pressure,liver cirrhosis and asthma cannot take Aspirin either (13).


Ibuprofen too has some precautions:

  • Not recommended for pregnant women
  • People with history of heart disease ,Strokes etc.
    Should never be taken by individuals that exhibit an allergy towards NSAIDS (14).


Now that you know the basics differences between aspirin and ibuprofen – you can make a better choice next time when pain strikes. Although these two drugs are quite similar but they have unique properties that affect your body differently.Most importantly make well-informed decisions regarding medication usage to protect yourself from digestive tract bleeding,and other harmful health concerns one might encounter while using OTCs .