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Which painkiller is safest for you?

May 01, 2020

It's more important than ever to consider your particular health risks before popping a nonprescription pain reliever.

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Have a headache, muscle strain, or maybe arthritis pain? Don't reach for just any over-the-counter (OTC) remedy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin are commonly used OTC painkillers. So is acetaminophen (Tylenol). For decades, these drugs were thought to be entirely safe — justifying the ability to purchase them without a doctor's prescription.

But the thinking on OTC painkillers has changed now that we know more about their risks. And it's especially important to navigate these medications with care. Here are guidelines to help you narrow the options.

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