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This Popular Painkiller "Ineffective" at Times, Warns Study

It can treat some types of pain better than others.

Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are the four types of over-the-counter medication used to treat pain. It has been determined that some medications are more effective at treating specific types of pain than others. For example, acetaminophen is typically used to treat headaches, fever and general aches and pains—but not swelling—while the others can be more effective in treating inflammation. However, a recent Australian study has found that one of these drugs is more effective at treating everything, at least accordion to its results. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Acetaminophen is "Ineffective" at Treating Certain Kinds of Pain, Says Study

Paracetamol pill

According to a review published in the Medical Journal of Australia, paracetamol (acetaminophen) is ineffective in reducing pain for many of the conditions it is used for. As part of the study University of Sydney researchers looked at the "efficacy and safety of paracetamol for pain relief in treating 44 conditions, ranging from dental work to headaches. They found while it was effective in treating some of them, for others it fared the same as a placebo—including lower back pain. "While paracetamol is widely used, its efficacy in relieving pain has been established for only a handful of conditions, and its benefits are often modest," the study said. Keep reading to see what it is good, and less good, for.

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Acetaminophen Is Effective in Treating These Conditions, Says Study

Young woman have headache migraine stress or tinnitus

"High or moderate-quality evidence that paracetamol (typically 0.5–1g, single or multiple doses) is superior to placebo for relieving pain was available for only four of 44 painful conditions examined," researchers concluded. 

According to their findings, there was evidence it was effective in treating pain associated with knee and hip osteoarthritis, craniotomy, tension headache, and perineal pain (pain in the pelvic area). There was also moderate-quality evidence of efficacy in treating "women with early postpartum perineal pain" and "relieving pain in people with episodic tension‐type headache." For what it's less good for, see next slide.

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Acetaminophen Is Ineffective in Treating These Conditions, Says Study

Side view of a frowned young man suffering from pain in loin while sitting on white bedding

The study found evidence that it was ineffective for treating acute lower back pain, relieving the pain of a sore throat during the common cold, and helping relieve migraines in children and adolescents, and also pain after dental surgery in children.

Additionally, it was inconclusive in terms of postoperative pain, chronic low back pain, endodontic surgery pain and abdominal pain.

"For most conditions, evidence regarding the effectiveness of paracetamol is insufficient for drawing firm conclusions. Evidence for its efficacy in four conditions was moderate to strong, and there is strong evidence that paracetamol is not effective for reducing acute low back pain. Investigations that evaluate more typical dosing regimens are required," researchers concluded. 

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What the Doctor Says About Acetaminophen

Doctor with stethoscope around his neck looking at the camera

Tylenol, a brand name for acetaminophen, is one of the most common over-the-counter drugs in the world, and you may be wondering what taking Tylenol every day does to your body. Inexpensive, available in a variety of forms, including tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, suspension or solution, extended-release tablet, and orally disintegrating tablet, nearly everyone has some form of it in their medicine cabinet, and use it effectively treat a variety of ailments.

"Tylenol is fine as long as you don't take too much," Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, explains to Eat This, Not That! Health. He specifies that it is safe in adults for up to 4 grams per 24 hours.  "Typically, it is dosed every 6 hours (325mg-1gm)."  For children, the dose is 10-15mg/kg every 6 hours and it is weight based. So use it safely, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah