Ken Jeong: If you take Advil & Tylenol at the same time it’s as effective as some narcotics

Ken Jeong was on Ellen this week, where she hit him up for free medical advice because she torqued her neck. First of all, I feel for Ellen because I’ve had whiplash and ongoing neck issues from it and it’s the worst! After going to physical therapy a couple of times for it I realized that I could just do yoga off YouTube and that it was basically the same exercises. If you ever have back, hip, neck or specific issues Google “YouTube yoga *your problem*” and there’s likely a video with exercises you would pay a physical therapist for. This has helped so many of the issues I get from overexercise, sleeping wrong, etc., and I love Yoga with Adriene particularly. You can tell she does her homework. Update: Obviously consult a physical therapist and/or doctor for your specific problem and don’t DIY it. This is for information and discussion purposes only and regularly taking over the counter medications has specific risks that you can discuss with your doctor.

Anyway Ellen told Ken about her issues and the medications doctors have prescribed for her. He’s a legit pediatrician and medical doctor who gave up his practice when he landed the role of a lifetime in The Hangover. It’s a nice story about changing careers later in life too and he tells it on his standup special on Netflix. Dr. Jeong knew about the prescriptions she was on and gave some advice for OTC treatment which was new to me.

You used to be a doctor, help me
Anti-inflammatories once with meals three times a day for a total of ten days, giving it rest will calm down inflammation. Maybe some extra Tylenol for breakthrough pain.

I’m on steroids, a muscle relaxer and a shot of something they give basketball players
Toradol. I’m a doctor I know these things.

When that shot wears off I take three Advil and two Tylenol that’s what they told me
My wife still is a doctor and studies show that if take the Advil with the Tylenol at the same time it’s as effective as some narcotics.

[From Youtube]

I’ve never heard that about Advil and Tylenol working together like that and wish I would have had that information after my endometrial ablation. Here’s a link to a report on the studies about that. I’m going to try that the next time I have my period, because I still get my stupid period even after all that. Sometimes I take CBD oil and I like how it makes me feel but it makes me slow at writing so I only take it on days off. Also I want to plug meditation and listening to alpha wave music. If you’re in pain or suffering from depression or anxiety it really does help and there are many quick guided meditations on YouTube.

Ken also talked about his family, he’s been married since the early 2000s and they have twin daughters aged 12. He said his wife threw a karaoke birthday party for him for his 50th and that it was a blast and a lot of Masked Singer people showed up. He’s a judge on The Masked Singer. I should be watching that right?

Here’s that interview!

His wife’s Emmy’s dress is gorgeous!


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135 Responses to “Ken Jeong: If you take Advil & Tylenol at the same time it’s as effective as some narcotics”

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  1. morningjacket says:

    I became very ill after a surgery from narcotic pain management. I cannot tolerate even small amounts of narcotics; I get excruciating headaches and vomit endlessly. My surgeon told me about the acetaminophen/ibuprofen method and it was very helpful. I also have a friend with a TBI that uses this method of pain management, and it exhibits tremendous efficacy.

    • Risa says:

      I feel you on this. Any narcotic makes me profusely ill. I have to break them into quarters and take each section with food 15 minutes apart just to keep it down. They have prescribed anti-nausea meds to counter act.. but they end up knocking me out cold.

      After my tubal ligation and ablation I just used ibuprofen. I am definitely going to try the combo now!

    • aang says:

      They make me sick to my stomach too. I guess the up side is that I’d have a hard time becoming a drug addict.

      • (TheOG)@Jan90067 says:

        Narcotics make me itch so badly. Even though they’d give me Benadryl, in IV form with it (when I was in the hospital), I itched. I also needed Ativan for the nausea. Sigh… all I wanted was to be knocked out, so I wouldn’t feel it.

        I had a complicated root canal 2 wks ago; just got the perm. cap last Wed. and my mouth/jaw is still killing me (swollen, sore). I just tried the 3 tylenol and 2 advil combo; hope this works! 🙏🏻🤞🏻

      • Pants says:

        @TheOG- I hope it works for you. I had a root canal last week and the combo worked okay. Then it got infected and I had quite a bit of pain (and swelling) even with the combo. Ice helped. thankfully the antibiotics are working. Even with a canker sore on it, my mouth is getting back to normal. Next week is the crown!

    • Bella Bella says:

      CELEBITCHES, BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT TAKING IBUPROFEN. Do not take it in large doses!! I would avoid it at all costs. I now have Stage 3 kidney disease and my kidney doctor thinks it may be from taking large doses of Ibuprofen after oral surgery 4 years ago. I personally think this drug should be taken off the market. It’s dangerous. And kidneys don’t regenerate. Once diseased, all you can do is monitor your GFR levels and eat as well as possible.

      This has been really upsetting to me and it distresses me to see this being recommended by anyone.

      • DSW says:

        @BellaBella, I came here to post exactly this. I was diagnosed earlier this year with CKD, and my doctor also suspects my overuse of NSAIDs as well.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        What kind of dosage were you taking? Underhydration is a risk factor for prerenal failure, especially if combined with ibuprofen because IIRC, ibuprofen dilates the afferent arteriole and further reduces blood flow through the filtering unit of the kidney, the glomerulus.

        Yikes. Best wishes for better health.

      • PlainJane says:

        BellaBella and DSW, I am so sorry to hear this for both of you! This story scared me because people may not realize what they are doing to their bodies until it’s too late.

        I used to take high doses of aspirin and ibuprofen due to terrible migraines. A doctor friend freaked out and told me I had to get a handle on pain management before I ruined my internal organs. I now take tylenol and a preventative, and rarely use ibuprofen (only on the really bad days).

      • evelynpierce says:

        I was about to say the same thing. I’m surprised he would put that out there. It’s very dangerous to mix the two.
        Please try other venues before resorting to this.
        Try Yoga, heat pads and stretching. Stand in a shower as hot as you can stand it.
        I’ve bought everything “memory foam” for my bed and it made a big difference.

      • MrsOdie says:

        Ibuprofen is dangerous for your kidneys and acetaminophen is dangerous for your liver. Any recommendation to take one or both of these powerful medications should be advised as such. I am sorry for your kidney damage. I was prescribed very high dose ibuprofen, and the pharmacist advised me not to take it in the amounts prescribed.

      • Marieke1980 says:

        Tylenol is paracetamol, combining it with ibuprofen actually makes that you don’t have to take nearly as high a dosage as if you would take either separate. Please stop scaring people into not using pain relieve when it’s so clearly documented in studies that these are effective and, when used in correct dosage, not harmful. Everything is cleaned up by your kidneys and your liver, so they are the organs that are damaged first when overdosing. If you develop any chronic disease to either kidneys or liver than it’s likely you were predisposed in the first place and the nsaids were just the first to trigger it. Also kidneys need to be damaged pretty badly to even come close to that diagnosis. They are incredible organs that will keep in working even if there is hardly any functional tissue left. So not saying your experience is invalid or everyone should start eating Advil like candies but it is unlikely (and even a guess by the way you guys describe it).

      • sue denim says:

        Sorry to hear Bella Bella, take care. And yes, doctors push ibuprofen like it’s candy…and it’s not. I took too much ibuprofen one year for headaches that no doctor figured out — I eventually did — was because of chronic dehydration. I’ve had stomach issues ever since, and have had to completely clean up my diet, be careful about portions, how fast I eat, etc. and drink plenty of water (60 oz) throughout the day, ever since, to not have stomach discomfort. Our whole medical community is so oriented toward medication (money transaction) rather than true problem solving (often free), we have to be our own sleuths. So yes, be careful w advil/ibuprofen, and try to get to the root causes, that’s what I learned.

  2. Riemc526 says:

    That’s what my dentist told me to do after surgery last yr. 1 midol + 1 extra strength Tylenol. It worked so well that I only use that combo now.

    • Esmom says:

      I haven’t heard of the combo for pain but when my son was hospitalized with pneumonia, I learned that the combo is helpful in bringing fevers down. Not taking them together, but alternating them every couple hours.

      • Ali says:

        This. All my pediatricians have recommended alternating Tylenol and Advil for my kids pain/fever relief.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Be careful, I believe the effective med in Midol is acetaminophen ( tylenol) and you could be pushing the boundary of safe dosing. In excessive doses, acetaminophen is very toxic to the liver. Acetaminophen overdoses as suicide attempts should NEVER be taken lightly. Disclaimer: former ICU RN.

  3. Escondista says:

    Ugh I’m finally in the third trimester of pregnancy and I am burping stomach acid and my joints are all relaxing to prepare for birth and my hips HURT every morning I wake up. I have pillows to help but, lord have mercy, pregnant women can’t take much at all for pain. Maybe I need some pregnancy yoga on YouTube too.

    I hope your neck is better soon!

    • Esmom says:

      I remember my hips locking up when I was walking in my third trimester, where I couldn’t take one more step without a break to re-set them somehow. Hang in there, that will go away once your little muffin arrives!

    • morningjacket says:

      I have a condition called esophageal achalasia that, among other issues, causes awful reflux. You may ask your doctor about a Rx PPI to help if there are no contraindications with your pregnancy. I use a liquid form that is very helpful when things get rough. Meditation *may* have positive psychosomatic results for your pain. You’re making a human—you’re f* king amazing. I’m sorry for your discomfort in the meantime ❤️

    • Betsy says:

      Hang in there! Those last few weeks can be so heinous.

      You’re not *supposed* to have baking soda for all the sodium, but occasionally I would treat my pregnant self to a glass of baking soda water. Yes, a loud belch or two, but oh my god the relief for a while from the acid.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Oh, that symphysis pubis pain with walking is THE WORST. I was in so much pain with twins by 38 weeks. Best wishes for an easy delivery, and improved comfort.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        I had that with my singleton (big baby and I was HUGE, but not like having twins), and it was horrible because I couldn’t exercise properly and that contributed to my depression and anxiety being out of control. Couldn’t even vacuum for 5 or 10 minutes without being in terrible pain the rest of the day. UGH. All these “pregnancy is not an illness” and “look, some women run every day up into their third trimester!” people can go jump up their own asses when they act like pregnancy is NBD and pregnant women asking for consideration of their medical issues are just lazy or hypochondriacs. GAH. Apparently I’m still mad.

    • La says:

      @Escondista I’m in my 3rd trimester too and I’m right there with you on the hip pain. It’s the worst and Tylenol doesn’t do jack! I do prenatal Youtube yoga all the time and it really does help. Prenatal massages have also done wonders for me. My OB also recommended acupuncture which I haven’t tried yet but she said worked when she had the same issue. I go to a very mainstream western practice so I was very pleasantly surprised to hear her recommend it instead of just throwing meds at the problem or saying suck it up.

      Best wishes on the baby! We’re almost there!!

    • StaceyP says:

      I had the acid reflux through both my pregnancies, I don’t know if you can get it down in the states (probably) an over the counter indigestion med call Gaviston worked for me, my husband uses it for his too. You have to chew it and it FOAMS in the mouth (kinda gross) but it really really works.

    • MrsOdie says:

      I remember that pain. I was in constant agony, and all I could take was 250 mg of Tylenol, and the doctor didn’t even want me to take it every day. The pain continued a few months after my babies were born, but at least then I could take anything I needed for the agonizing constant ubiquitous pain.

  4. Laalaa says:

    Yoga with AdrieNe. One N.
    She is the only one who is successful in helping me manage my insomnia.

    • Erinn says:

      She’s the closest I’ve ever been to being able to tolerate yoga. She seems super sweet, and not quite as fluffy bullshitty as a lot of other yoga people online.

      I just can’t do it. I can’t sit there and listen to the ‘be one with your body. Imagine a ball of energy… push the energy forward.’ and all the white girl fetishization of other cultures.

      If someone could just do all of this in a more sports science / body mechanics kind of way without all the flowery spiritual stuff, I’d probably be super into it. But even Adriene gets a little into the spiritual thing, and I just can’t take it seriously.

      • Tammy says:

        Look up yoga dose with Tim (I can’t remember his last name). It’s on you tube and it’s none of that fluffy, calming music crap. It’s the only thing I will do. I love it.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        Look for a CYT with a minimum of 500 hours of training. If you can’t find someone with 500 hours, look for 200. They are much more skilled at proper alignment and mechanics, familiarity with muscular system and root locks.

      • AJMN says:

        Do pilates! Wonderful strength and flexibility focus without the “flowery, spiritual stuff.”

      • Cdoggy says:

        Wow. “White girl fetishaztion with other cultures”? I am white and a girl and I believe there is much to be learned from cultures outside my own and I fully engage in it. I save my money all year to travel and learn when I have summer break. I bring my learning back to my students, too, some of whom are white, but most not. My mission trip to India when I was 19 was where I learned what real suffering was. But it was also where I learned the power of yoga for calming the mind, spirit, and body. Maybe instead of hating on “white girls” for embracing something outside of themselves, maybe you try applying some of that anger to learning.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        From what I understand, “spirituality” is a part of yoga. So if you are looking for a yoga teacher that doesn’t include the mix of physical/mental/spiritual, you might not be looking for yoga.

      • I just cAnt says:

        If you’re looking for yoga that’s more athletic and less on the appropriation, try five parks yoga on YouTube. Erin is badass and gives you a workout

    • Jess says:

      I’m struggling with bad insomnia for the first time in my life (along with depression – I’m sure they’re related and they’re probably both thanks to perimenopause). Is there a specific Yoga with Adriene that works for you? Do you do it right before bed or is it just a daily practice that helps? I’d also love more input on this alpha wave thing if that helps with sleep and depression.

      • Laalaa says:

        Hello, fellow insomniac, so sorry you’re struggling! Any video will do, in my experience, but for me it’s best when it gets me to MOVE, not to meditate. Meditation for insomnia is in my experience really frustrating.
        However, I have recently been told the hormon which makes us sleepy is mostly produced in the belly area, so working your abs in a gentle way can do wonders.
        My best advice to you would be non yoga related, and that is – if you are not sleepy, don’t be in the bed, go do something! You can start a circle of thoughts “why am I not sleepy, I have to sleep, it is getting late”, etc, if you stay in bed. Go do something productive and the minute you feel sleepy, go to bed. Good luck!
        Edit: I practice daily for 15minutes. Mostly before bed.

      • Hnmmom says:

        I swear by ASMR for insomnia. Check out WhispersRed or GentleWhispering on You Tube. There are different triggers that relax different people so try a few videos to see what you like best. It’s been a game changer for my sleep.

      • ME says:

        How late do you eat dinner? I swear to you when I stop eating food around 6 or 7 pm I sleep so much better. If I even eat a cookie at 8 or 9, I can’t sleep well.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:


        Melatonin is actually produced in the pineal gland in the brain. That said, gentle still yoga sounds like a great idea, and meditation is also wonderful, because both set your mind at ease.

        I have been struggling with insomnia since officially menopausal this past spring. I think it’s a journey to find what thing or combination of things work for any one individual.

        I went to a therapist specializing in sleep distturbances who recommended the following: after looking at my sleep logs, she calculated that I needed 8.75-9.25 hours of sleep- I was shocked I needed so much. Regular sleep/ wake times, no matter the quality of sleep the night before, no reading/tv in bed. 15-20 mins to fall asleep, normal- if you can’t fall asleep, get up, move elsewhere and journal or read until you are tired. This applies to both bedtime and premature wakings. Treat hot flashes if they are disturbing. Blackout shades. No blue-based light sources.

        I have found, like other posters, limiting food/liquid in the 2-3 hours prior to sleep helps, as do things like valerian, a little melatonin, and CBD formulations for sleep.

        If anyone else has found beneficial methods, please post. Insomnia is a bitch and really affects one’s quality of life.

        To fellow insomniacs- my sincere sympathies, and best wishes for a solution that works for you.

      • Ali says:

        I go to hot yoga classes. I can’t do yoga at home for any length of time that makes it beneficial. It’s too boring.
        The heat helps (it is already cold where I live), I sweat a ton, my overall flexibility and muscle tone is improving and after every class I have less rage than I went in with.
        I’m going through a divorce, also peri menopausal with insomnia (I didn’t know the two were related?) and just thought I’d throw hot yoga out there.
        I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s the only thing keeping me sane right now.

      • Avery says:

        @Ali We are going through the same thing at the same time! So you are not alone. I have to get back to hot yoga. It has helped you with the insomnia?

      • waitwhat says:

        I have seen melatonin recommended here and I know it works for many. Be careful if you’re on an anti-depressant (as I am). I had a terrible interaction – I was drenched with sweat, trippy, nightmarish dreams, just awful. I was on either Pristiq or Effexor at the time.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I’ve also heard melatonin can interfere with birth control pills and make them less effective!

    • Jess says:

      Thanks, Laala, for the advice. I’m going to give Adriene a try tonight and hope it helps! Thanks for the other tips too. Insomnia sucks!

      • dawnchild says:

        Re: insomnia tricks…
        You can also try this mental exercise…start rewinding through your day backward, one step at a time, stay focused on it. See how far you can get. Usually you are sleeping by the end, or the mind is quieted. A body relaxation with breath control (like yoga nidra) can center the mind and still the body too. It’s hard to still the mind without stilling the body. It’s usually the mind that’s going 90 mph keeping us awake.
        I’ve heard weighted blankets work really well too.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:


        I recently felt a weighted blanket in BBB- it was intriguing, and I may give it a try, especially now that hot flashes are waning.

      • Ali says:

        @avery – no I haven’t found on my yoga days I sleep any better but I feel better equipped to handle the day on a lack of sleep when I go.
        3 am is my usual. 4 am I consider a good night’s sleep. 2 am is so painful because even if I do manage to fall back asleep my littlest is waking up between 5-5:30.
        I’ve tried melatonin. It helps me fall asleep faster but does nothing to keep me asleep. I’ve tried ambien but even though my body is technically asleep longer I still feel like a zombie the next day. Didn’t feel it was worth the other possible side effects.
        Insomnia might be hormones or it might just be my body’s stress response 🤷‍♀️ That which doesn’t kill you…

    • Jomomma says:

      Love Yoga with Adriene. My fave is her yoga for when you’re sick. It’s nice and easy and makes you feel like you’re really taking care of yourself when you’re under the weather.

      And for my fellow insomniacs, I highly recommend the Sleep
      With Me podcast. It’s free and provides just enough mental distraction to let you fall back asleep. (I tend to wake up at 3 am to ruminate, and find meditation impossible because my thoughts still spin.)

    • little bird says:

      agree with her being the best!! i have awful cramps (like, stay home from work every month bad) and she’s got an amazing video for period cramps that is honestly the only thing that helps whatsoever.

    • Jamie says:

      I love her. No lie.
      She’s so sweet and goofy when she goes off on a little pop culture tangent.
      And Benji is the best!
      I’ve literally lol’d when she has to work around him.

  5. Lightpurple says:

    Yes, it works but, like all medications, be careful. Too much Advil can wreak havoc on your stomach lining (that’s why you have to take it with food) and too much Tylenol can damage your liver. Do not go over the daily amount listed on the bottle.

    • noway says:

      YES!!!! He wasn’t proscribing either, but do you notice he said use for 10 ten days. Most of the problems with people and over the counter drugs is they don’t use it per the directions or Doctor’s instruction cause they think it’s okay cause they didn’t need a prescription. I’ve done this for acute pain, and it works, but if you go past 10 days call a doctor on what to do. Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen have serious side effects from over using for an extended time.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, very good advice. My friend was giving her son tons of ibuprofen for a wrist injury and while that healed he ended up with a bleeding ulcer.

    • harper says:

      I did both together when I got my tonsils out last year (oh my god, that is soooo painful, and opiods did nothing for it.) BUT! I wrote down exactly how much I took and when I took it, and never went over the daily maximum dose, no matter how much pain I was in. Keeping the doses small and regular helped.

      And when my mom had her hip replaced several months ago? Same thing: opioids did nothing, but tylenol/advil worked. So she did alternating doses, every couple of hours, keeping the total under the max daily dose. I wrote down every pill she took and when she took it, so everything stayed under the limit.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        the combo works great, but you have to use the lowest effective dose and do it sparingly for no more than 10 days and you should be OK. Don’t use extra strength products. One regular ibu and one regular aceto every 6-8 hours no more than 3 times a day and no more than 7-10 days. Then you have to stop and tell your doctor you still have pain.

  6. GreenBunny says:

    I get migraines and have since I was 7. I don’t get aura’s so most of the migraine meds are useless to me since I don’t get any indication one is coming, it just hits and I’m down. I hate taking strong narcotics because they make me feel worse. My dad is an ER doctor and told me years ago that you can take tylenol and advil at the same time, they are processed through different organs so you’re not double dosing your liver. That combo is one of the few things that actually help. And FYI if you do need to take narcotics, the dosing is acetaminophen (tylenol) so don’t double dose with another tylenol or you can hurt your liver. You get take ibuprofen (advil) though.

    • pooks says:

      Same here, I have been doing this for years for migraines and it is far more effective than any prescription I’ve had.

    • Erinn says:

      I don’t get auras … however, I’ve noticed that whenever one is coming on, it’s typically following a lot of yawning. I’ll yawn excessively for an hour or so before it really hits. I’ve never tried the tylenol and advil combo – using one of the two might as well just be sugar pills for me because it doesn’t even take the edge off. The only thing that’s ever really worked at triptans.

      • Enn says:

        Erinn I yawn too! Another tell, because I don’t get aura, is that my eye starts to tear.

        I have a triptan/muscle relaxer/barbiturate combo for mine.

      • GreenBunny says:

        Hmmm, I didn’t know yawning and tearing might be an indicator. I’ll have to take notice next time I get one and see if that’s a potential sign. I have fiorocet from when I was pregnant because those migraines were a level of intensity I never had before. They were the worst when pregnant with my daughter. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it through the pregnancy but luckily the stopped in the 2nd trimester. I still keep those on hand because they do work really well still and I use those sometimes at bed.

    • Purplehazeforever says:

      I’m going to have to try this because my migraines are breaking through again on preventive meds. Tylenol & Advil. Never would have thought it. I use Aleve.. doesn’t work anymore.

      • AbominableSnowPickle says:

        Have you thought about botox injections? Botox and my preventer meds (I take a calcium channel blocker called Verapamil. Other common ones are beta blockers like propanalol) have been like a revelation for me. They work so well together, there are three month segments (botox injections are every three months) where I don’t have any migraines at all. And I went from about 23 migraine days a month. It’s been wonderful. There are quite a few new other treatments too…uh, Aimovig and another one. It might be worth asking your doc about.

        *what works for me so beautifully won’t work for everyone, as we’re all so different, but migraines are hellish and I hope you can find something that works. Do you take anything when you get them, like sumatriptan/imitrex or other abortive meds? That might be worth asking about as well. I have sumatriptan in a nasal spray and if I catch things early enough, I start to feel relief in about 10 minutes.

      • theotherViv says:

        @AbominableSnowPickle That is awesome. How many Botox injections do you get /how many pressure points? I tried it but only 10-12 pricks and I was told for it to be effective for migraines it needed to be at 44 different spots on my head/neck.
        I use triptans and haven’t tried the Aimovig because the Aimovig costs about a grand a month, where I live. Beta blockers make me slow and fat so I am keen to try a calcium channel blocker. Please share some details on the type of Botox you got?

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Have you ever tried triptans to abort migraines? Sublingual maxalt worked for me. My S-I-L has chronic migraines and if finally 75% better on Amovig (new preventive). She was using up her sick and vacation days due to frequency ( my age but not yet menopausal).
      They worked pretty well for me when mine ramped up in perimenopause.

      Otherwise aspirin or ibuprofen and a dose of caffeine can be effective. I am so grateful they are gone- my doc once put me on verapamil as preventive, and it dropped my blood pressure so low I got dizzy every time I sat up on the couch. Bad experience.

      My poor son usually vomits, takes ibuprofen, then sleeps it off.

      • AbominableSnowPickle says:

        I have sumatriptan nasal spray, and while it tastes *disgusting* going down the back of my throat…I onset of relief is within 10 minutes or so. Definitely beats the 60 minutes with the tablets. Maxalt was good too, but the post- migraine/triptan hangover from it was pretty cruddy for me. I take verapamil and it works really well. I had been on propanalol (a beta blocker) for several years, but since one of the things beta blockers do is suppress adrenaline, it made me feel really flat. So glad you found something that works! That’s the hardest part, and it sucks trying stuff until you find the right thing.

    • ClaraBelle says:

      I had frequent and terrible migraines in my childhood and continued into late teens. Somewhere in my mid-teens I learned of Excedrin and (unlike aspirin alone)… turned out to be the only thing that could head of a migraine. It contains both aspirin and acetaminophen PLUS caffeine; I always thought the caffeine was the secret ingredient (and I know it can help) but maybe it’s also the combination of the other two pain relievers.

    • Antonym says:

      A word of caution about OTC pain meds for treatment of migraines: you may inadvertently increase the frequency of your migraines by using these methods. Apparently the more you use them the more likely you are to experience a rebound migraine. Then you take more otc pain meds. Then another rebound migraine. It’s a vicious cycle. My neurologist told me about rebounds and very strongly urged me to stop using otc meds (of course you should talk to your own doc). I started getting Botox for migraines a few years ago and it’s been a big help. I still occasionally use otc meds (bc powder and a Gatorade chaser is what works best for me), but I try to use them very rarely (my prescription breakthrough med causes a lot of drowsiness).

  7. Sarah says:

    But you can’t take them together at exactly the same time! That’s too much medicine at one time. My doc says take a dose of Tylenol and then four hours later take the Advil.

    • Tanesha86 says:

      You can absolutely take both at the same time. It’s common practice especially in my line of work as an ER nurse.

      • Spicecake38 says:

        Yes,I was a nurse too,and we didn’t usually use this combination in my area of practice,but then last year when I had a double mastectomy I wasn’t tolerating my narcotics,and my surgeon had me do three Tylenol and two Advil at one time-all the pain relief minus the groggy mind and other symptoms.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        Exactly. Acetaminophen excreted via liver, ibuprofen via kidneys.

    • AbominableSnowPickle says:

      That’s for fevers, usually in children. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are processed through different organs (ibuprofen through the kidneys, acateminophen through the liver). Be careful not to take more than the recommended daily doses of each, but taking them together is just fine. And it’s very effective.

      Source: chronic pain patient of 17 years, and I’m an AEMT

    • Gina says:

      Yes, you can.

      It’s called ‘multi modal’ pain management and they can be taken together. You always want to consult a MD on the types of med your system can handle but this is very true and becoming more and more common because of the narcotic problem we are having in this country right now.

  8. Kealeen says:

    Former pharmacy tech here, and also helped manage/care for family members through things ranging from metastatic terminal cancer to outpatient procedures. It’s incredibly frustrating to see these stories without acknowledging the risk of damage to the renal system by taking OTCs like Tylenol and Advil to regularly manage pain, especially for women.

  9. AA says:

    My doctor told me about this too but she said don’t do it all the time. It’s bad for your liver.

  10. Eliza says:

    Um add in a cup of coffee and that’s an Excedrin tablet: Advil+Tylenol+caffeine

    He’s probably talking higher doses? I think excedrin is equivalent if 1 tablet advil, 1 tablet tylenol and 1 cup of coffee.

    • Enn says:

      Excedrin is aspirin + Tylenol + caffeine.

      • boredblond says:’s my go-to for headaches or backache; when I’m out, I take ex strength Tylenol and 4 low dose aspirin, and even without the caffeine it works for me.

    • Tanesha86 says:

      Actually Eliza Excedrin is acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine. There’s no ibuprofen in it at all

  11. Michael says:

    I thought the Tylenol-Advil thing was common knowledge. I guess Tylenol works quicker and Ibuprofen works longer. Since they are not the same chemical make up you can take both.

    • AbominableSnowPickle says:

      They also work in different ways. Ibuprofen is an NSAID, so it reduces inflammation. They’re processed with different organs too. Ibu is processed by the kidneys, and tylenol by the liver…as long as you don’t exceed the safe daily dosages for each, they’re awesome^.^

  12. SamC says:

    I travel a lot for work and a couple of my local yoga studio instructors also recommended Yoga with Adriene (one N, it’s a pain with autocorrect!). Her YouTube channel is great, and free. Lots of classes and focus, plus variety of class lengths, from 5 minutes to full hour plus.

    And while yoga can’t completely replace PT, when I went through PT for a knee injury was surprised when several of the at home exercises assigned were yoga moves.

  13. It’sjustblanche says:

    16 years ago I had a miscarriage and since it had already been diagnosed by my doctor, all that was left to do was actually have the miscarriage. Well they didn’t tell me was that the pain was the same as pregnancy labor. I finally called my sister in law who is a doctor and she told me the same thing. It works!

  14. Frida_K says:

    Another option in response to pain (chronic or acute) is traditional Chinese medicine, and this can include bodywork therapy (called tui na, which is similar to massage), herbal treatment, lifestyle support, tai chi or qi gong, and–of course–acupuncture.

    Do-it-yourself diagnosis isn’t necessarily your best bet and snarfing down a combination of painkillers (a) only masks pain and glosses over the root cause in chronic cases and (b) can mess your liver up.

    • aang says:

      I mentioned Tai Chi further down. It has been so good for every aspect of my mental and physical health. I can’t believe it is not more popular. I was able to recover from a torn mcl with no surgery and little pain after the initial injury by practicing tai chi or qi gong every day. My knee is now pain free, back to normal strength, and my balance is great.

  15. Heather says:

    This is what was prescribed for me after my hysterectomy a couple of years ago. Never took a narcotic. They just alternated between Advil and Tylenol. Worked like a charm! Never had even a smidgen of pain. And no bleeding either.

  16. Mia4s says:

    It absolutely works and it’s great for period cramps (because generally speaking you should only have to do it for the first day of your cycle, maybe two). Anything longer than that you should get checked out.

  17. CharliePenn says:

    I get migraines from any rapid barometric change, so thunderstorms can really mess me up. Sometimes when a hurricane is headed up the east coast (I am in NJ) I’ll Have a headache for days. It’s a bummer that my head is like the most sensitive piece of barometric detection technology around haha.

    I get warning signs with my vision and concentration before the pain starts. So I start absolutely guzzling water, and I put an ice pack on the back of my neck and take the magic combo Ken is talking about here. I almost never take medicine unless absolutely necessary. But this magic combo can prevent three days of pain if I take it fast enough. It’s amazing! I just take it once at the onset of symptoms and I’m much much more able to continue to feel normal and live my life. If I miss that window, and try to take it after the insane pain starts, it doesn’t help as much. So there’s some advice for anyone out there who has barometric migraines. Learn your onset signs and take this combo one time! You might be amazed.

    • theotherViv says:

      yay. I too, could double as a weather station and I react to air pressure like nobody’s business. I will definitely try this before succumbing to a triptan.

  18. TheHeat says:

    I had a hysterectomy last year and I did the tylenol+advil combo after I was released from the hospital. It was magic.
    Any time I have pain & inflammation, that’s what I take.

  19. frizz says:

    It’s great but there is a level of pain where Tylenol is ineffective it’s ok to take an opioid.

    Having been on oxy recently I think the risk of addiction isnt the same for everyone. I was able to come off it just fine.

    There was a lot of resistance to opioid use for me, was told I would get addicted, and I was given Tylenol for severe pain for weeks to the point I was ready to stop life saving medical treatment because I couldn’t live with the pain. I was given oxycontin and only took it when the pain was the worst. It helped so much.

    I thought it would be some big high but it’s not at all. I think everyone reacts differently to analgesic and there is a place for opioid treatment.

    • CharliePenn says:

      Risk of addiction is definitely not the same for everyone. I’ve also been prescribed oxy and I never had any problem stopping it. I felt kind of high on it, but I didn’t feel I needed to seek that feeling out again, you know what I mean? Like yeah that felt nice but now it’s over. I actually much prefer the high from weed, and that’s a high you can use for years without any snowballing effect or adverse effects if you’re responsible.

      I will tell you, I think we are just very lucky. I’m 36 and when I look around at my generation I am so devastated. Those of us for whom opioids aren’t an instant demon are lucky and we dodged a bullet. Because for every person like you and me, who took these meds and made it out perfectly fine, there is someone who was addicted by the time they finished their prescription. You hear about people who took these pills once and say they just KNEW this was it for them. Like instant addiction. It’s like Russian roulette.

    • Selena says:

      I take Endone (oxycontin). Have been taking it for 10+ years. My dosage hasn’t changed in 10 years and it still helps with my pain. I am very careful, I only take it when I am in pain and can often go for 3 or 4 weeks without it. But then may take 6-8 in a 24 hour period. Not everyone on these sorts of drugs is an addict. I am sick of the stigma attached to it, it is so hard for someone like me for whom no other drug except IV narcotics work. I have chronic idiopathic pancreatitis btw, so an unusual condition too.

      • CharliePenn says:

        Selena I understand and I hope nothing I said made you felt stigmatized and if I did please let me know. Removing the stigma is so so important for people like yourself as well as addicts.
        I take a small dose of adderal six days a week. That’s a highly stigmatized drug also, due to misuse. I have no desire to ever take more than prescribed, and it makes my life much more manageable because it helps my ADHD, which in turn helps my anxiety disorder. Those 10mg of adderall a day change my life. I have been on it for almost two years and have not increased dosage. But even pharmacists have made me feel stigmatized and ashamed, because of ideas about adderal and addiction. So I hear you that there is a place for these meds and many many people use them accordingly and would never abuse them. I’m glad you have something that helps because that’s a lot for you to deal with, and you deserve a good quality of life.

      • Selena says:

        @charliepenn, no not at all. Thankyou for that. I have had pharmacists actually lecture me about having been on the drug for such a long time. I even had one tell me to “try hypnotherapy”. Seriously!!??!! In Australia if you go from one state to another you cannot use the prescription written in another state. So if we go travelling I have to go to a GP I have never been to before for a prescription. That is a nightmare! There are some GP’s that will never prescribe these medications at all. There are others that are just so rude, even though I take paperwork with me, I have a federal government ehealth record that indicates my disease process and prescription history. It is a nightmare. Thankyou for you wishes and the uneeded apology. I am glad that Adderall works for you too.

  20. Onerous says:

    Yes! When you have kids they tell you to alternate them. But when my & year old had reconstructive foot surgery the ER doc and nurse AND anesthesiologist all said to just dose them together. It’s obviously not meant for long term use but it works extremely well. I’ve often found narcotics do nothing for the actual pain, I just don’t care about it… and they make me sick, so I try to avoid them.

  21. Bonnie says:

    Trauma nurse here. In my line of work you can imagine that managing pain is a big part of recovery and in addition to various treatments and medicine like opioids, yes Tylenol and Ibuprofen work well because they increase each other’s effectiveness (potentiate) when taken together. BUT also, this is certainly not to be done without some sort of medical supervision and not for long term chronic pain as mentioned above, because of the possible liver damage (Tylenol) and most people don’t realize that with large amounts of ibuprofen, your kidneys can take a hit.

  22. Melody calder says:

    If you have high blood pressure be careful with ibuprofen. I took it after delivering my baby and having high blood pressure in delivery and I ended up with a mini stroke/basal constriction that I’m still recovering from a year later. My dr says ibuprofen can cause brain blood flow issues if you take too much.

  23. Sofia says:

    My brother’s a surgeon, and I get debilitating period cramps that last a couple of days. He’s always told me to stagger doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol throughout the day for the max daily dose.

  24. manda says:

    My doctor once told me that tylenol and aleve have a synergistic effect, but I usually just use ibuprofen

  25. Adrien says:

    Paracetamol is a weak otc pain med. It’s given to children and pregnant women as first line analgesic. It’s even safer than baby aspirin. Ibrufopen (Advil) is an nsaid analgesic. Potential to damage the kidneys.
    But I’ve seen a more patients overdose on Paracetamol (intentional or accidental) b/c it’s cheaper and easier to access that the E. R. has huge supply of N acetyl cysteine to counter acetaminophen toxicity. Many patients think it is safer to take more than the prescribed dosage because it is weaker than NSAIDs, corticosteroids (rx) and does not cause stomach upset or bleeding like aspirin. It can damage the liver.
    Combining the two though is a common practice because some people think the one will amplify the other. And they are probably correct. I dunno those are two organs one will potentially damage.

  26. Nicegirl says:

    Great article, great comments, as usual! 😉. Not gonna bless everyone with a ridiculous novel length response, which can happen a lot with me lol, but I agree with others that this combination can be helpful, that I’ve used it before and also to be careful for longer than 10 days. I’m so sorry, I feel like such an idiot I didn’t think to mention this combo when you were recovering, CB.

  27. smcollins says:

    I’m not going to get in on the medications discussion but I bet he was a great doctor. He seems to know what he’s talking about and, even though he’s no longer practicing, it also seems like he keeps himself informed of the latest studies & information (I’m sure his wife being a doctor also helps). And given how incredibly funny he is, and how kind & down-to-earth he seems to be, his bedside manner was probably so comforting. Which, as a pediatrician, is definitely an essential asset. I’ve loved him since he stole all of his scenes in The Hangover, and I’m so happy for his success!

  28. Avery says:

    I just want to say thank you for this! I have constant neck pain from an old injury and it can be depressing. I am going to search the yoga on youtube and try the combo of advil and tylenol. I am also going back to hot yoga. I am so scared of getting hooked on pain meds.

  29. Oare Azenabor says:

    In the WHO management of pain, on the pain ladder Acetaminophen is first line then plus / minus NSAIDS( non steroidal anti inflammatories).

  30. ME says:

    Be careful with pain killers. Only take them if you absolutely have to. Advil is horrible on the stomach. For period pain try fennel tea. Start drinking it the minute you feel cramps (if you can). Just put a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a pot, add water and boil. Then strain, throw a way the seeds and drink the water. You can add honey if you like for taste. It works great. A warning that fennel can interact with some meds so ask your doc first…also fennel can increase estrogen levels so make sure the herb is ok for you first.

    • jenner says:

      Interesting, will try this next time I need help. Some of these recommendations piling on the meds are crazy.

  31. Originaltessa says:

    This is the combo they give you after childbirth/episiotomy.

  32. aang says:

    Tai Chi has worked wonders for my depression, anxiety, joint pain after a knee injury, and a pinched nerve in my neck that was causing my hand to go numb. Plus my balance is better than ever.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      This sounds wonderful. I’m going to look for local instruction. I keep telling my 82 year old mom to try it, as she has begun to fall occasionally. I hope she will.

  33. Thaisajs says:

    I have arthritic knees and when my injections are wearing off, or I’ve been walking/standing too long, I have definitely used the Tylenol/Advil method of pain and inflammation management. One or the other works, but taken together it’s so much better.

    That said, as others have mentioned, these drugs are not good for your liver and you really should try to minimize how often you take them. My doctor prescribed a gel version of Advil that you can apply to joints which I used instead of taking the pill, so the medicine is applied to the area that actually hurts. Apparently this stuff is OTC in Europe but you need a prescription in the US.

  34. lolalola3 says:

    omg he was brilliant in the Hangover! Even thinking about it cracks me up.

  35. Annabella says:

    My pharmacist told me to take 2 Advil and 1 Tylenol for sinus headaches and sinus infection pain. Works like a charm.

    • lucy2 says:

      I have an approaching sinus headache right now, and just took an Advil. I’ll have to try the combo next time. My sinus headaches are pretty debilitating, so anything is worth trying.

      But everyone please be careful with dosages – someone dear to me passed away from acetaminophen overdose after surgery.

      I’m going to look into the yoga and Tai Chi on youtube. Thanks!

  36. Gina says:

    It’s known as multi modal pain management and it is becoming more and more common partly because of the opioid epidemic in this country. It’s also more effective to get people up and moving after surgery. Opioids cause lots of problems on top of their addictive qualities.
    After surgeries, they are starting to only use the opioids for what they can “break through” pain management. Patients are sent home with acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

  37. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    Has anyone tried dry needling or acupuncture? I slipped sock-footed on carpeted stairs a few years ago and sustained three hard hits to my coccyx/ sacrum. No pain control/ chiropracty touched it. PT didn’t really help- this PT was a pelvic floor pain specialist who told me we were at the end of the line, and there one one modality left before internal coccyx manipulation ( OUCH, no thanks)- dry needling.

    She started inserting needles around both sides of my sacrum, and after a specific insertion , i got a- ? pleasant buzz of energy, maybe?- down the back of my leg- like a channel of energy. I have had spinal anesthesia before, and I know what a nerve zinger feels like- this wasn’t it.

    After I left, within a couple of hours, I could feel the pain & muscle tension caused by misalignment begin to abate. Within a couple days, it was 75% gone. Nothing short of miraculous.

    I tried one more session, without more improvement. Three years later, I only occasionally am temporarily bothered if I sit too long with poor posture. Miraculous. I would heartily recommend finding a PT who is specifically trained in dry needling.

    An aside, I had TCM acupuncture during perimenopause– it was the most profoundly relaxing thing I have ever experienced. At $100 a pop, though, I haven’t indulged again.

    • Bella Bella says:

      I often go to acupuncture to deal with various issues. For muscular pain-type stuff it is very helpful. It cured my karpal tunnel. After suggesting to my mother for a half a year and her ignoring me, my mother’s regular doc suggested she do acupuncture for severe chronic back pain she had because of loss of fluid between her spinal disks. And it cured it. Now she’s a convert.

      Right now I am going to acupuncture to help with my chronic kidney disease and my GFR numbers have gone up (a good thing) from the scary level they were at before.

      You have to be consistent with acupuncture and keep going once a week until your issue is resolved.

      Quite frankly, I’m reading all these posts, and after what’s happened to my kidneys, I would choose acupuncture over any pain meds always. People don’t warn you about the long-term affects of those drugs.

  38. DM2 says:

    Are we talking regular strength for each in the combo, or extra strength?

    • Tourmaline says:

      I would think it would be recommended always to take the minimum dose that works for you. I don’t think taking an extra strength acetaminophen and an extra strength ibuprofen together would hurt (rarely–I don’t think anyone would recommend taking those meds chronically without medical monitoring because it can be rough on liver/kidneys/stomach)

      • DM2 says:

        Makes sense to start with the lower doses, thanks. Wasn’t sure which particular dosages everyone was talking about!

  39. Eden75 says:

    Huh, I had no idea. I have arthritis from a bad neck injury when I was young as well as apparently carrying my stress in my neck. (After 3 years of agony, I went to the doc. Genius level, I know…..) I left the pain so long that the muscles pulled the curvature out of my neck. That leaves me in unreal agony all the time. I have started physio, massage therapy as well as using a TENS machine nightly on my neck and upper back. I have not tried this combo but I think I will for a few days, just to see. My problem will be reoccurring if I don’t learn to manage my stress better, so off to check out Yoga with Adriene for that.

  40. Zantasla says:

    Ask your doc, but alternating is what I’ve been told after surgery. Take ibuprofen, 3 hours later take acetaminophen, three hours later take ibuprofen and so on.

  41. shells_bells says:

    So it looks like everyone has covered the drug/medical advice that I was going to say.
    So I’ll just say this instead… Yes! You SHOULD be watching the Masked Singer. I picked it up late in the season last year, but It’s so much fun to play along and make guesses along with the judges (even though Jenny McCarthy is SOOOOO obnoxious). My partner and I love games & trivia so we’ve turned it into a competition between the 2 of us.

  42. CairinaCat says:

    I use 2 500mg Tylenol and 3-4 200mg ibuprofen for my Cronic foot pain. I had a severe tri Mallory fracture and surgeries and was in bed for 6 months because it was non weight bearing, then a wheel chair for 6 months in a boot.
    At about the 6 month after the injury/surgeries I transferred to tramadol and the above pills.
    Now I just do the above. It’s very effective.
    I seem to do a week on and a week off

    I also get migraines, I take Excedrin.
    Or I take actual Tylenol+aspirin+caffeine

    Because I take the Tylenol for my foot I keep track of what I’m taking, so if I’m getting it in the Excedrin I don’t take the usual Tylenol for my foot.

    But also just taking aspirin and a large amount of caffeine helps for the headaches

    It you have a bad headache drinking a Pepsi with the Excedrin makes it work faster
    I also use a bengay type cream on my forehead and wear a tight frozen eyemask after massaging my temples and forehead briskly

  43. Su says:

    Although this is so far down the thread it may never be read…..(unintentional rhyming), it’s been known for a while that ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be taken together. Back in the early ‘90’s I took a class on psychoactive pharmacology where we were told that there are 2 pain pathways in the brain. One pathway responds well to acetaminophen/paracetamol and the other responds well to ibuprofen and aspirin. That is why you cannot take ibuprofen and aspirin together as you are overloading.

    Since Australia made low levels of codeine prescription only they have been pushing the paracetamol/ibuprofen heavily, even for chronic pain. The problem with this thinking is the fact that both paracetamol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen are not good for your kidneys. Studies looking at just regular use of acetaminophen/paracetamol have shown increased kidney disease.

    I realise that there is an opiate epidemic but knee jerk reactions in regards to low level opiates have essentially produced serious issues that almost no one is addressing. It is even more pertinent for chronic pain sufferers.

  44. Le4Frimaire says:

    I was once traveling abroad and came down with a cold with the most painful sore throat, couldn’t sleep or swallow. Local advice nurse there told me to take combo ibuprofen with acetaminophen and totally took the pain away. Never even knew could do that and still use that combo when I have a bad cold.

  45. CB says:

    I had major dental surgery last year. Dentist gave me a scrip for 800 mg Motrin and Tylenol with codeine. He said to start off by alternating the Motrin and just extra strength Tylenol. The Motrin was every 6 hours, so 3 hours after I took it, I took 2 extra strength Tylenol. Said if that didn’t keep the pain at bay, to take the Codeine. Never did I have to resort to the Codeine. I was shocked at how well it worked (along with using an ice pack). I only did that for 3 days. After that, my pain was pretty much gone.

  46. SilentStar says:

    Gosh, Ken and his wife make a cute couple!

  47. Reader says:

    Celebitchy, I also had an endometrial ablation that didn’t stop my periods, ugh. And now I’ve had ovulation pain that I never had before.

    The combo I use when it’s starting is the same one I used after my 2 c-sections: 1 Naproxen (aka Aleve) and a 500mg acetaminophen (tylenol). Other than the epidural during the surgery I used no narcotics. This combo also helps alleviate pubic symphesis disfunction and back spasm pains.

  48. Angel says:

    I will never believe him regarding medical advice again because this is dangerous.

    My nephrologist – kidney specialist – told me never to take Advvil/ibuprophen because it can destroy the kidneys, and recently it’s been shown that taking ibuprophen for as little as a week can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues.

    My gastroenterologist – digestive tract specialist – said for me to never take Tylenol because even taken at recommended dosage, it can destroy the liver. Further research showed that they’ve reduced the maximum strength dosage over the years due to people having liver damage.

    Saying to take both of these medications at the same time is irresponsible and potentially dangerous.