Skip to main content

Advil (ibuprofen) & Tylenol (acetaminophen) together, is it safe?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 8, 2023.

Official answer


Yes, it is safe to take ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) together if you need to for extra pain relief, such as for a dental extraction. Taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen together works better to relieve pain than taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen separately. This is because they work in different ways with few side effects.

But it is important to keep to the recommended dosage and to watch out for other medications that you may also take that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, and may not be suitable for some people such as those with stomach ulcers or kidney problems. High dosages of paracetamol can cause liver damage, so never exceed the recommended dosage, especially if you drink alcohol regularly.

If you are taking prescription-strength ibuprofen, talk with your doctor before combining it with Tylenol.

Can you take Tylenol and ibuprofen at the same time?

Yes, you can take Advil (ibuprofen) at the same time as Tylenol. But if you want to get pain relief that lasts around the clock, then it is better to alternate them.

How do you alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen?

The best way to alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen (Advil) is to take them 2 to 4 hours apart. For example, if you get up at 6.00am, you can take a dose of ibuprofen, then at 8.00am, you can take a dose of Tylenol. You can continue this regimen throughout the day, making sure you don’t exceed the recommended maximum dose for each drug. An alternating dosing schedule of 3 hours for an adult may look like this:

  • 6am Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 9am Tylenol 1000mg
  • 12pm Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 3pm Tylenol 1000mg
  • 6pm Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 9pm Tylenol 1000mg.

This dosing schedule does not exceed the recommended maximum dose of 3000 mg/day for acetaminophen and 1200mg/day for over-the-counter ibuprofen.

An alternating dosing schedule of 4 hours for an adult may look like this:

  • 6am Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 10am Tylenol 1000mg
  • 2pm Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 6pm Tylenol 1000mg
  • 10pm Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 2am Tylenol 1000mg.

The dosing schedule of every 4 hours allows for a middle-of-the-night dose for those who need round-the-clock pain relief.

This dosing schedule does not exceed the recommended maximum dose of 3000 mg/day for acetaminophen and 1200mg/day for over-the-counter ibuprofen.

How often can you alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen?

You can alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen (Advil) every 3 hours or every 4 hours, following the schedules outlined above.

You could also alternate them on different days, for example, on a Monday you take ibuprofen, on a Tuesday you take Tylenol, on a Wednesday you take ibuprofen and so on. However, the purpose of alternating them is usually to provide round-the-clock pain relief, so alternating them on the same day is usually better.

How much ibuprofen can I take?

The usual dosage of ibuprofen (Advil) for adults is 200 to 400 mg orally (one or two 200mg tablets) every 6 to 8 hours as needed. The maximum dosage for ibuprofen brought over the counter is 1200mg (6 tablets). If you get ibuprofen prescribed by your doctor, they may put you on a higher dosage, with a maximum of 3200mg per day (12 tablets) but if you are buying it over the counter you should never take more than 1200mg per 24 hours (which is 6 x 200mg tablets).

Children weighing less than 11kg or younger than 12 years will need a lower dosage.

How much Tylenol can I take?

The usual dosage of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for adults is two 500mg tablets every 6 hours with a maximum daily dose of 4000mg in 24 hours (which works out to be 8 tablets a day). But many experts believe most people should not exceed more than 3000mg (6 tablets) a day. Children and adults weighing less than 50kg will need a lower dosage.

It can be confusing because different OTC medications can contain different dosages of acetaminophen, such as 325 mg, 500 mg, or 650 mg. To add to the confusion, acetaminophen may be listed as APAP on the label.

Examples of medicines that also contain acetaminophen include DayQuil, Dimetapp, Excedrin, Midol, NyQuil, and Sudafed. Always read the product label for hidden acetaminophen because you should not take more acetaminophen than recommended.

Are there any studies that support taking Tylenol and ibuprofen together?

There are several studies that show that taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen together is more effective than taking either one alone.

A combination tablet that contained 200mg of ibuprofen and 500mg of paracetamol and a combination tablet that contained 400mg of ibuprofen and 1000mg of paracetamol were much more effective in providing sustained pain relief in adults with moderate to severe acute dental pain than separate doses of ibuprofen or paracetamol.1

Combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the same tablet was just as effective as some opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, or codeine) at relieving moderate to severe pain (baseline score of 8.7) in 416 adults.2,3

What is ibuprofen (Advil)?

Ibuprofen is a pain-relief medicine that can be brought over the counter from a supermarket, drug store, or gas station. Brand names include Advil and Motrin.

Ibuprofen works by blocking COX enzymes which are needed to make prostaglandins, which are involved in inflammation (redness and swelling). By blocking these enzymes, ibuprofen decreases inflammation.

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

What is Tylenol?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another pain-relief medicine that can be brought over the counter. Brand names for acetaminophen include Tylenol. In some countries, acetaminophen is called paracetamol.

Acetaminophen has a unique way of working, although it is still thought to work by inhibiting certain COX enzymes.

  1. Mehlisch DR, Aspley S, Daniels SE, Southerden KA, Christensen KS. A single-tablet fixed-dose combination of racemic ibuprofen/paracetamol in the management of moderate to severe postoperative dental pain in adult and adolescent patients: a multicenter, two-stage, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, factorial study. Clinical therapeutics 2010; 32(6): 1033‐1049.
  2. Moore PA, Hersh EV. Combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen for acute pain management after third-molar extractions: translating clinical research to dental practice. J Am Dent Assoc. 2013 Aug;144(8):898-908. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2013.0207. PMID: 23904576.
  3. Chang AK, Bijur PE, Esses D, Barnaby DP, Baer J. Effect of a Single Dose of Oral Opioid and Nonopioid Analgesics on Acute Extremity Pain in the Emergency Department: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2017 Nov 7;318(17):1661-1667. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.16190. PMID: 29114833; PMCID: PMC5818795.

Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups