Using nonprescription pain relievers safely

Alternating two types of over-the-counter drugs can relieve pain while reducing the risk of serious side effects.

If you're in a drugstore trying to decide which over-the-counter pain reliever to buy, there are scores of products from which to choose. But there really are only two basic types: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); or acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you want to maximize pain relief and minimize side effects, you might want to stock up on both types.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »