What Are They?
These nonprescription pain relievers have more than one ingredient. Caffeine is added to enhance the absorption of the aspirin or acetaminophen, so it gets to your brain – and stops pain – faster. They work best for arthritis when using aspirin or for tension headaches when using acetaminophen.

Active Ingredients (Common Brands)
Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin Extra-Strength); aspirin and caffeine (Anacin); and acetaminophen and caffeine (Aspirin-Free Excedrin)

Common Side Effects
Abdominal cramps or stomach pain, heartburn or indigestion, nausea and vomiting, slowed blood-clotting time (for medicines containing aspirin), and jitters and trouble sleeping (for medicines containing caffeine)

Safe Use
Before medical testing, tell you doctor that you’re taking these drugs.

Hidden Benefits
Research suggests that a single daily dose of acetaminophen may slash the risk of ovarian cancer in half.

Aspirin is approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of subsequent strokes and adverse cardiovascular events. It reduces the risk of death from heart attacks, prevents second heart attacks, and diminishes the risk of heart attack in people with angina.

Not Recommended For
If you consume alcoholic beverages, consult your physician before using these drugs, especially because both acetaminophen and alcohol are hard on the liver. Medications containing aspirin are not recommended for people with asthma, nasal polyps, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, severe liver or kidney disease, stomach ulcers, or history of hemorrhagic stroke.

Special hints
To prevent gastrointestinal side effects, take with meals.