Acetaminophen vs. ibuprofen as an antipyretic

Although both are analgesics, it is my understanding that acetaminophen is more antipyretic and ibuprofen is more anti-inflammatory. Is acetaminophen really better at reducing fevers than ibuprofen?—JENNI HOFFMAN, FNP, NP-C, Redford, Mich.



The common practice of alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen for fever has clouded the drugs' individual efficacies. Most of the data available studied the effect of the medications on febrile children. After much discussion of side effects and safety issues, it is almost a draw between the two, but ibuprofen shows a slightly better efficacy for reducing fevers. Of note, however, the combination of the two medications not only reduces the fever more quickly but also keeps it normalized for several hours longer than either drug separately. For additional information, see BMC Med. 2006;4:4, and BMJ. 2009;339:b3540.—Sherril Sego, FNP-C, DNP (139-5)

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