Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm.D. — Written by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. on December 19, 2018
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Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are both over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be used to relieve pain.
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These medications are two different types of pain relievers. Acetaminophen, sometimes listed as APAP, is its own type, while ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Generally, it’s safe to take acetaminophen and ibuprofen together, but you’ll want to pay close attention to how much you take of each medication.
The key to safely taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen is knowing how much you’re taking at a time and how often.
The maximum safe dosage of acetaminophen for anyone over the age of 12 is 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day. But even this amount can harm some people’s livers, so aim for no more than 3,000 mg per day.
For children under the age of 12, it’s best to check with their healthcare provider to determine the safest dose for their body weight.
Keep in mind that many OTC medications contain acetaminophen in a variety of doses, usually 325 mg, 500 mg, or 650 mg.
Some examples of brand-name OTC medications that may contain acetaminophen include:
Remember: When looking at labels, you might also see acetaminophen listed as APAP.
Avoid taking more that 1,200 mg of ibuprofen in a single day. OTC ibuprofen is often found in 200 mg pills. This translates to six pills a day. Still, you should always verify how much is in each pill.
Again, for children, it’s best to ask their healthcare provider about the safest dose for their weight.
If you have prescription-strength ibuprofen, talk to your prescriber before mixing it with any other medications, including acetaminophen.
The recommended limits for adults and children over 12 are:
3,000 mg per day of acetaminophen1,200 mg per day of ibuprofen
For children under the age of 12, contact their healthcare provider or refer to the product label for dosage guidelines.
You can take ibuprofen and acetaminophen at the same time. Just make sure to not take more than the recommended dose.
Some people experience some stomach or abdominal pain when taking the two medications together. In this case, it’s better to alternate when you take each medication.
For example, you could take ibuprofen first, followed by acetaminophen four hours later, and then repeat this process as needed.
You could also alternate days. For example, if you take ibuprofen on Monday, take acetaminophen on Tuesday and so on.