Is It Safe to Take Tylenol (Acetaminophen) with Advil or Motrin (Ibuprofen)?

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Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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It’s a question that comes up a lot: Is it safe to take acetaminophen with ibuprofen?

Yes, you can take them together, and in fact they even work better in combination than separately. Several large studies have shown that ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) together work well to relieve pain, with few side effects. In fact, for many things like dental pain, they work better than many of the opioid-containing pain meds (like Vicodin or Norco).

Why is the combination safe?

Acetaminophen is cleared by the liver, while ibuprofen is cleared by the kidneys. Each medication works differently and they are broken down differently so there is minimal concern here.

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How are acetaminophen and ibuprofen different?

How much acetaminophen can I take?

The recommendation is 325 mg to 650 mg every 6 hours, or 1000 mg (2 extra strength tablets) every 8 hours or twice a day.

The maximum dose is 4 grams per day, which would be 8 extra strength Tylenol (500 mg each) or 12 regular strength (325 mg) tablets. Don’t take more than that.

How much ibuprofen can I take?

For the treatment of mild to moderate pain, 200 mg to 400 mg of ibuprofen will work. Generally taken every 6 to 8 hours, the maximum dose of Ibuprofen is 2400 mg per day which is 12 over-the-counter tablets.

Especially in light of the recent FDA recommendations, be sure not to take more ibuprofen or acetaminophen than you need to relieve your pain. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if you aren’t sure of the right dose for your situation.

Dr O.

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