BuzzFeed Science answers your science questions! This time we tackle this awesome question:
Advil (aka ibuprofen) is part of a group of painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
NSAIDs are the most common painkillers worldwide and include other drugs like aspirin and naproxen (Aleve). There are, of course, other types of pain meds out there. Tylenol (acetaminophen in the U.S., paracetamol in other parts of the world) is also an over-the-counter painkiller.
Another group of meds are the narcotic painkillers (oxycontin, etc.) that work in an entirely different way and carry more risk of addiction and overdose. For the purpose of this post, though, we will be focusing on NSAIDs, which all work in the same general way.
NSAIDs don’t actually "know" where the pain is, but they only work on areas associated with inflammation — aka where pain usually is.
Normally, when you injure yourself, enzymes jump into action and produce a group of chemicals called prostaglandins that cause inflammation, Price said.
NSAIDs like Advil work by making it harder for your body to make the enzymes that help produce those prostaglandins. That helps with the pain, too.
Fun fact: Acetaminophen/paracetamol is kind of similar, but science doesn’t really have a clue about how it works.
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