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Aspirin And Acetaminophen Essay

1182 words - 5 pages

When people suffer from muscular pain, headaches, and fevers they more often than not turn to over the counter medicines. But which one do they use? Does one work better than the other? What side effects do each contain? Is one better for you? Aspirin and acetaminophen are the most widely used, commercially available, pharmaceutical drugs.1 Canadians turn to these of non-prescription remedies to ease minor aches and pains, irritations and illnesses without having any clear knowledge of which drug will alleviate their symptoms. This essay will focus on the synthesis of aspirin and acetaminophen, how they work, and the side effects and benefits of using them.Aspirin is a member of the chemical ...view middle of the document...

They found that acetanilide was both a vermifuge and an antipyretic.5 A researcher at the Bayer Co. read about this work and saw a potential use for p-aminophenol (a by-product of the synthesis of another of Bayer's products). At the time, it was believed that all compounds having an -OH group on a benzene ring were toxic, so in addition to acylating the amine, he replaced the hydroxy group with an ethoxy group. The product, phenacetin was an analgesic and an antipyretic. It was later found that not all aromatic hydroxy groups lead to toxic compounds. Preparation of acetaminophen involves treating an amine with an acid anhydride to form an amide. In this case, p-aminophenol, the amine, was treated with acetic anhydride to form acetaminophen, the amide. The acylated amine precipitates as a crude solid, which is then crystallized from hot water.6 When tissue is damaged it releases chemicals. One of these chemicals is called prostaglandin. It helps nerve endings register sensations better. There are many different types of prostaglandin. Aspirin works by interfering with the formation of one type of prostaglandin called thromboxane. They are made by working cells by using an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase 2.7 Aspirin goes everywhere in the blood stream and works where thromboxane is being produced. Aspirin does not stop the problem causing pain, but by controlling the production of thromboxane the pain signals going through nerves to the brain are not registered as well, hence, a feeling of relief. Once a platelet has been in contact with aspirin it becomes unable to produce thromboxane for the rest of its life (7 to 10 days).8 Acetaminophen's exact mechanism of action is unknown. Unlike aspirin, acetaminophen is primarily centrally acting, has no effects on platelet aggregation, and is a reversible inhibitor of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme involved in prostaglandin synthesis.9 The antipyretic activity is exerted by blocking the effects of endogenous pyrogen on the hypothalamic heat-regulating center, possibly by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. Heat is dissipated by vasodilatation, increased peripheral blood flow, and sweating. An analgesic effect may be produced by a direct action on the pain threshold. This effect is believed to be due to inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis or inhibition of the synthesis or actions of chemical mediators or other substances that sensitize the pain receptors to mechanical...

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