The pain relievers aspirin and ibuprofen are both classed as NSAIDs and so have similar side effects.
They can be purchased over the counter and used separately to treat mild pain. Over-the-counter uses of aspirin and ibuprofen include the relief of:
Both drugs are also treatment options for long-term medical issues, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Doctors often prescribe aspirin to people who have had a heart attack or suffer from a heart condition called angina. It can help to prevent strokes and heart attacks in people who have risk factors for heart disease.
If a person is already taking aspirin for aches and pains in an analgesic dose, then also taking ibuprofen does not make sense. Taking ibuprofen as well could increase their chances of side effects.
If someone is taking aspirin in low doses to prevent heart attacks, they may be able to take ibuprofen periodically for aches and pains, such as headaches and muscle aches.
Common side effects of NSAIDs include:
- stomach problems, including bleeding, ulcers, and diarrhea
- kidney problems
- high blood pressure
- heart problems
- fluid retention, causing swelling of the lower legs, feet, ankles, and hands
If a doctor has prescribed aspirin to someone to help prevent a heart attack, then taking ibuprofen at the same time for pain relief can interfere with the benefits of aspirin for the heart.
But the periodic or occasional use of ibuprofen should not prevent the beneficial effects of aspirin.
Some people should avoid NSAIDs altogether, including those who:
- are allergic to aspirin or ibuprofen
- have asthma
- have uncontrolled high blood pressure
- have severe liver or kidney disease
- have a bleeding disorder
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
Aspirin is also not suitable for children and young people under 16 years of age.