Aspirin and ibuprofen are both used to treat minor pains. Aspirin can also help prevent heart attacks or strokes, and ibuprofen can lower fever. As you may have guessed, it’s possible to have conditions or symptoms that both drugs can treat or prevent. So can you take these drugs together? In short, most people shouldn’t. Here’s why, plus more information on the safe use of these drugs.

Both aspirin and ibuprofen belong to a drug class called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They have similar side effects, and taking them together increases your risk of these side effects.

Aspirin and ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding, especially if you take too much. That means taking them together increases your risk. The risk of stomach bleeding from these drugs continues to increase if you:

  • are older than 60 years
  • have or have had stomach ulcers or bleeding
  • take blood thinners or steroids
  • drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day
  • take more of either drug than recommended
  • take either drug for longer than directed

Aspirin or ibuprofen may also cause allergic reactions, with symptoms such as hives, rash, blisters, facial swelling, and wheezing. Taking them together increases this risk as well. If you experience any redness or swelling from aspirin or ibuprofen, contact your doctor.

Both aspirin and ibuprofen may also cause hearing problems. You may notice ringing in your ears or a decrease in your hearing. If you do, you should contact your doctor.

Aspirin uses

You may use aspirin to help treat minor pain. A typical treatment with aspirin is four to eight 81-mg tablets every four hours or one to two 325-mg tablets every four hours. You should never take more than forty-eight 81-mg tablets or twelve 325-mg tablets in 24 hours.

Your doctor may also prescribe aspirin to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. Heart attacks and strokes can be caused by clots in your blood vessels. Aspirin thins your blood and helps prevent the formation of blood clots. So if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, your doctor may tell you to take aspirin to prevent another one. Sometimes, your doctor will start you on aspirin if you have several risk factors for a stroke or heart attack. A typical treatment for prevention is one 81-mg tablet of aspirin per day.

You can also take aspirin to help prevent colon cancer. Your doctor can tell you how much is right for you for this type of prevention.

Ibuprofen uses

Ibuprofen can treat minor pain, such as:

  • headaches
  • tooth pain
  • back pain
  • menstrual cramps
  • muscle pain
  • pain from arthritis

It can also help lower fever. A typical treatment is one to two 200-mg tablets every four to six hours. You should try to take the lowest amount possible. Never take more than six tablets of ibuprofen in one day.

To avoid serious side effects, you probably shouldn’t take ibuprofen and aspirin together. However, if you feel the need to take both, talk to your doctor first. If your doctor decides that it’s safe for you to take both drugs at the same time, keep an eye out for symptoms of stomach bleeding. If you notice any symptoms, stop taking aspirin and ibuprofen and contact your doctor.