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What's the Difference Between Aspirin and Ibuprofen?

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The main difference between Aspirin and Ibuprofen is their usage. Aspirin is preferably used to treat occasional body pains like headaches, toothaches, and minor body spasms. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is used as a treatment for long-term, ongoing conditions like arthritis, menstrual cramps, and muscle pains.

What is Aspirin?

Molecular Structure of Aspirin

Aspirin is an over-the-counter (OTC), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used as medication or treatment for occasional pains, fevers, or inflammations. The most common doses of Aspirin are 325 milligrams for oral tablets and 81 milligrams for chewable tablets.

In the late 1800s, Aspirin was discovered by a German dye manufacturing company called Bayers. The chemical acetylsalicylic acid, which is the active component of Aspirin, was found in the waste products of their production by the company’s Research Team.

What is Ibuprofen?

Molecular Structure of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter (OTC), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used as medication or treatment for ongoin, long-term pains such as menstrual cramps and rheumatoid arthritis. The most common Ibuprofen dose is 200 milligrams.

In the 1950s, scientists developed Ibuprofen as a safer substitute for Aspirin. The term “Ibuprofen” was derived from the active ingredients that make up the drug: isobutyl (ibu), propionic acid (pro), and phenyl (fen). It is originally intended to be developed for the treatment of arthritis.

Differences Between Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Aspirin and Ibuprofen can both be considered anti-inflammatory and pain-relievers. They can both cure discomfort due to pain and relieve symptoms of other diseases or illnesses. Although they seem similar in their uses, knowing the key differences would save an individual from further complications and misinformation.

Precaution: Age 

Aspirin should not be taken by individuals under 16 years of age. Also, any individual under the age of 18 years old that has a viral illness shouldn’t take Aspirin for it increases the risk of acquiring Reye’s Syndrome.

Ibuprofen intake is allowed and safe as early as 7 months old. Taking proper doses of Ibuprofen doesn’t heighten any risk of complications or illnesses. However, seeking medical advice from health professionals is highly encouraged before taking a dose.


According to the American Health Association, Aspirin can help to prevent the risk of a heart attack. Even though its active ingredient, acetylsalicylic acid, is known for having allergic reactions in some individuals, the right amount of doses could achieve stunning results.

According to Mayo Clinic, Ibuprofen is better for chronic pain management given that it is being taken in correct doses. Since Ibuprofen is ideal for ongoing pains, it is already given that the management of chronic aches would be solved by taking Ibuprofen doses correctly.

Side Effects

Aspirin’s most common side effects are, but not limited to, upset stomach, heartburn, drowsiness, and headache. Some grave side effects can include GI (Gastro-Intestinal) bleeding, peptic ulcers, or hearing problems. If an individual would undergo an operation in the upcoming week, Aspirin should be avoided.

The common side effects of Ibuprofen are nausea, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness, and hypertension. Other unusual but possible side effects could be ulcers, renal impairment, or confusion. Large and uncontrollable doses can lead to heart failure and, ultimately, fatality.

Precaution: Current Health Status and Medication

People with Gastro-Intestinal (GI) disorders and bleeding disorders should refrain from taking Aspirin. Also, Aspirin should be avoided by people who are taking antidepressants and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Alcohol should also be avoided when taking Aspirin as it increases risk of GI bleeding.

Ibuprofen should not be mixed or taken together with antibiotics like Paramycin, Garamycin, or Tobi. Antiplatelet and Anticoagulants should not be mixed with Ibuprofen for it increases risk of GI bleeding. In addition, Ibuprofen shouldn’t be used before or right after heart surgery.

Comparison Chart: Aspirin Vs Ibuprofen

AgeHealthy individuals over 16 years old; 18 years old with no existing viral illnessAny healthy individual starting from 7 months old
BenefitsAnti-inflammatory, Pain reliever, decrease the risk of a heart attackAnti-inflammatory, Pain reliever, Better Chronic Pain Management
Side EffectsUpset stomach, heartburn, drowsiness, headache, gastrointestinal bleeding, peptic ulcers, hearing problemsNausea, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness, hypertension, renal impairment, confusion
Health Status and MedicationAn individual should avoid if one has: gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, and bleeding disorders. Also if one takes antidepressants and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)An individual should avoid it if one is taking: Paramycin, Garamycin, Tobi, or other antibiotics, antiplatelet, and anticoagulant drugs.
Main Active ComponentAcetylsalicylic acidPropionic acid

Similarities Between Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Aspirin and Ibuprofen are both OTCs or over-the-counter drugs. This means that an individual can buy these medications without presenting a prescription from a physician. Aspirin and Ibuprofen are two of the most common OTCs that the public can purchase easily through drugstores, convenience stores, or even supermarkets.

They both inhibit the COX enzyme to prevent the formation of prostaglandins. These NSAIDs are working to reduce the production of inflammation, pain, and fever. COX stands for Cyclooxygenase.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Risks of Ibuprofen?

High doses of Ibuprofen, 1200mg to 2400mg a day, could lead to potential risks and complications. People with a history of heart disease or stroke should seek and take professional medical advice before considering taking a dose. Also, Ibuprofen shouldn’t be taken if a person just had Coronary-Artery Bypass Graft Surgery or CABG surgery.

When was Aspirin Developed?

After the discovery of its fever-curing quality in the late 1800s, Bayer was able to form its own Research Team to develop the drug. It found public use in 1899. Shortly after its announcement, it became the go-to medication for fever and pain.

Is There Any Prophylactic Use of Aspirin?

A daily dose of Aspirin between 75mg to 325mg is proven to be beneficial in reducing the risk of cancer. To prevent further heart diseases, for patients that are clinically diagnosed with an existing cardi-vascular problem, a correct daily dose of Aspirin should also help. However, it is highly recommended to seek professional advice from health practitioners.


Aspirin and Ibuprofen are two of the most common drugs that can be sold and bought easily almost everywhere. Over-The-Counter drugs are very helpful for they are conveniently available whenever they are needed. However, uncontrolled or wrong doses could result in even more complications. That is why it is highly, strongly, and fully recommended to seek professional advice from medical experts before taking a drug. After all, health is wealth.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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