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You wander down the over-the-counter medicine aisle and are awestruck by the choices. You have aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and acetaminophen. You've seen the brands on these drugs advertised profusely on TV and on the radio. They all say they're the best to relieve your aches and pains. Here's a list of the different over-the-counter pain medications, what they treat best, and how you can know if you need one more than another.

Aspirin. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces fever, diminishes joint and muscle pain, and can help cure your migraine headaches. It is also the only pain reliever that has been proven to reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke. However, aspirin has been known to cause nausea in some people. If you have an ulcer or heartburn, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs should not be used by you.
Acetaminophen. This drug comes in Tylenol. It provides instant relief of fevers or pain without causing stomach problems or nausea. It can also be quite effective in fighting children's fevers. And because anti-inflammatories can cause bleeding, a better option might be acetaminophen. However, acetaminophen should not be mixed with alcohol. Heavy drinkers and those with liver and kidney problems should avoid acetaminophen.
Ibuprofen. This drug comes in Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin. Ibuprofen gives instant relief for headaches and pains. It is especially good for menstrual cramps. But ibuprofen can cause gastrointestinal problems and hurt your stomach. In addition, you should avoid ibuprofen if you have asthma, kidney disease, cirrhosis, or high blood pressure.
Ketoprofen. This drug is found in Acrtron and Orudis KT. Ketoprofen is a drug that can relief fever and menstrual ramps and arthritis. It doesn't cause as many stomach problems as other drugs. But it can upset the stomach in some people. And should not be used by those who have high blood pressure.
Naproxen Sodium. This drug is found in Aleve. Naproxen sodium relieves pain and fever for extended periods. This drug has been proven to last eight to 12 hours. It's gentler on the stomach than aspirin. But it can still cause stomach problems, and should not be used by those who have high blood pressure.