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Acetaminophen is one of the most effective, non-prescription, pain-relieving drugs available. It does not reduce swelling (inflammation), which aspirin does. However, it is a painkiller. It works in the brain by switching off the perception of pain. Additionally, it has few side effects, is not habit-forming and doesn't upset the stomach.
Up to 1,000 mg of acetaminophen may be taken every four hours. Do not take more than 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period. Taking more will not give you more pain relief and may cause liver damage.
Since acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work differently, the two can be taken at the same time.
Another new type of pain reliever is tramadol (Ultram). It acts in the brain to change the sensation of pain. Like acetaminophen, it has no anti-inflammatory effect. Tramadol is stronger than acetaminophen, but not as strong as the narcotics. It has several potential side effects and risks including:
- Drug interactions
- Pregnancy risk
To learn more about these types and other drugs, go to Medline Plus drug information.