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Excedrin vs. Tylenol: Why Excedrin Extra Strength Is More Effective for Headache Relief

These two pain relievers may be similar, but Excedrin has a powerful combination not found in Tylenol®.

When a headache begins, it can disrupt your whole day if you don’t treat it, but Excedrin Extra Strength starts to work in 15 minutes for some.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that Excedrin Extra Strength relieves headaches better than Tylenol® Extra Strength.1 Both Excedrin Extra Strength and Tylenol® Extra Strength include acetaminophen, an analgesic that relieves pain and reduces fever. But Excedrin Extra Strength contains two additional active ingredients, aspirin and caffeine.

Aspirin targets pain by blocking the production of pain signaling chemicals called prostaglandins. Caffeine is referred to as an analgesic adjuvant. This means it helps boost the effects for certain pain relievers. In the case of Excedrin, caffeine boosts the effects of aspirin and acetaminophen – making those medications up to 40% more effective.2,3,4

See the chart below for a breakdown of Excedrin Extra Strength vs. Tylenol® Extra Strength.

Contains Acetaminophen

(250 mg)

(500 mg)

Contains Aspirin (NSAID)
Contains Caffeine

2 every 6 hours
(Max. 6 Per Day)

2 every 6 hours
(Max. 6 Per Day)


  1.  Migliardi JR, Amellino JJ, Friedman M, Gillings DB, Beaver WT. Caffeine as an analgesic adjuvant in tension headache. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1994;56(5):576-86.
  2. Excedrin. Drug Facts Label. 2020
  3. Laska EM et al. Caffeine as an analgesic adjuvant. JAMA. 1984;251(13):1711-1718.
  4. Lipton RB, Diener H-C, Robbins MS, Gara SY, Patel K. Caffeine in the management of patients with headache. J Headache Pain. 2017;18(1):107.

Tags: headache treatments, caffeine

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