Alternating Tylenol and Motrin

Fever, pain, and injuries are common occurrences for which both Tylenol and Motrin are prescribed. You must have wondered some time as to whether you can take Tylenol and Motrin alternately? Or can you switch from one medicine to other?

The answer to this question is yes; you can switch from one medicine to the other as long as you are not making a habit of doing it. But there are a few precautions you have to take.

When to Alternate Tylenol and Motrin

In case you have been treating yourself or your child with acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain and fever and you find that you have ran out of the medicine, then in such cases there is no harm in switching to ibuprofen (including Motrin). As already stated, both of these medicines have a similar action of relieving pain and fever, though their mechanism of action in the body may be different. The important point to take care in such a situation is to follow the schedule recommended by the physician and to take correct dose of the medicine.

Switching from one medicine to the other can also be done in other situations. For example, your child is running high fever and you have given him/her a dose of Motrin an hour or two ago. However, his/her fever is not coming down and he/she is in similar kind of distress as before taking the medicine, then in such a case you can give your child a dose of Tylenol. This is in fact beneficial as you have to wait for another six to eight hours to repeat the dose of ibuprofen. It may happen that he/she may get better with Tylenol and not need any medicine for another eight to ten hours.

As already stated, alternating Tylenol and Motrin should not become a habit because doing so regularly can be harmful for your kidneys. As a general rule you should stick to the medicine, which works best for you or your child.

Another factor to keep in mind is to take the recommended dose of the chosen painkiller. This will ensure that the medicine is effective in relieving the symptoms completely. In case you are taking a little less than the recommended dose, it may happen that the symptoms are not relieved completely and you have to switch to a different painkiller.

Alternating Tylenol and Motrin for Pain and Fever

Tylenol and Motrin can be alternated for severe pain and high fever as more relief may occur in this manner than taking them alone.

  • To alternate them, start with two tablets of Motrin (Ibuprofen) 200 mg and then if after 2-3 hours, there is no relief from pain and fever, take two Tylenol 325 mg tablets.
  • If fever and/or pain is not relieved even after another two-three hours, take two more Motrin (Ibuprofen) 200 mg tablets.

Motrin (Ibuprofen) and Tylenol can be alternated in such a manner up to the maximum dose of each medicine is reached.


  • Temperature should be monitored after every 2-3 hours to check whether the medicine is effective or not.
  • Motrin should not be given greater than four times per day.
  • Tylenol should not be given greater than four times per day.

Alternating Tylenol and Motrin in Infants

Motrin and Tylenol can be given alternately even in infants to control fever, which may be caused due to a variety of causes ranging from teething to infections.

How to alternate Tylenol and Motrin in infants

Step 1: Take care to use the Motrin product for infants and administer the recommended dosage for infants. After giving the dose, wait for three hours.

Step 2: Similarly, take the Tylenol product made for infants and administer the recommended dosage for infants. Again wait for three hours.

Step 3: Motrin and Tylenol can then be repeated alternately every three hours and the two products can be used safely together.

If you are not sure, please do consult a pediatrician.

Tylenol and Motrin



Presence in drugs


Used to reduce fever and pain. It is mild on the stomach, hence, used in cases with associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It can be taken empty stomach. It can also be used to control pain after surgery as it does not affect the functioning of platelets, thereby, not increasing the chances of post surgery bleeding.

325 mg per tablet (regular strength): 2 tablets at duration of 4-6 hours as needed, not exceeding 10 tablets in a day (3250 mg).

500 mg per tablet (Extra strength): 2 tablets at duration of 6 hours as needed, not exceeding 6 tablets in a day (3000 mg).

Do not exceed the recommended dosage as it may cause toxic effects on the liver.

Take care to read the labels in case you are consuming over-the-counter combination drugs which have Tylenol so as to avoid taking excessive dosage. For example Dayquil or Nyquil. Tylenol may also be present in some prescription pain relievers such as Percocette, Tylenol with codeine and Vicodin.


Since it is a type of NSAID, hence, it can be used to reduce not only fever and pain but also inflammation. To relieve pain in muscles and orthopedic injuries, Motrin or ibuprofen is more effective in comparison to Tylenol. It has to be used for several days on a consistent basis. It has to be taken with food. Its use should be avoided by individuals who suffer from any type of kidney problems.

200 mg per tablet (OTC ibuprofen): 2 tablets at an interval of 4-6 hours or 3 tablets at an interval of 6 hours as needed given with food.

Prescription ibuprofen: One 600 mg tablet three times a day or one 800 mg tablet three times a day along with food.

The maximum dosage should not exceed 2400 mg per day.

Reading of labels is extremely important to avoid excessive dosage as ibuprofen may also be present in many OTC combination medicines such as Advil Cold and Sinus or Motrin PM.

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