When you get an ache or a pain, whether it be a headache or tenderness in an arthritic joint, do you pay any attention to the type of painkiller you take or do you assume that one size fits all? If you are this sort of person who grabs the nearest box of pills and hopes for the best, you may be surprised to know that different groups of painkillers are specifically designed to relieve certain pains. You may be spending money needlessly on tablets that do not work properly on your type of pain. So what sort of drugs should you be using for your ailments?
Ibuprofen – these type of drugs are called NSAIDS or Non-steroidal anti-flammatory drugs and are best suited to treating pains that occur in the muscles, joints or any inflammation aches. This is because they stop the production of prostaglandins. This is the chemical that transmits pain signals to the brain and causes swelling and painful joints. Take ibuprofen for menstrual pain, back aches, toothache and joint pain associated with arthritis. If you have a stomach ulcer you should be wary when taking large doses of NSAIDS as prostaglandins help to keep the stomach lining from it’s own acids so repeated prevention of this chemical will eventually damage it.
Aspirin – best known to be taken for headaches but can also be taken as a form of preventive medicine for heart problems as it thins the blood. It is also known as an NSAID but the effects of switching off the brains response to pain is longer, days rather than hours. It can therefore still affect the stomach lining. Useful for migraine sufferers as it targets the tightened blood vessels which occur in a typical migraine, allowing the blood to still flow freely.
Paracetamol – this drug is also one that prevents pain signals being reached by the brain but does not have any anti flammatory effects so is kind on the stomach. Although it does not an contain anti flammatory action, it does lower the bodies temperature so it is useful if your joints are hot and painful or if you are suffering from a fever. It is one of the few drugs you can still take when you are pregnant. Paracetamol can increase the blood thinning properties of the drug Warfarin so it is important not to take it is you are currently on a prescription for this.
Codeine – this works differently to the above drugs by mimicking the brain’s natural endorphins which in effect produce a pain free state. It is derived from morphine, a highly addictive drug and codeine should be taken with caution as long term use can also lead to addiction. It works to dull the pain and is used to relieve nerve pain and severe headaches. Only recommended for short term use, 10 days or less.
So the next time you get a painful joint ache, or severe headache, you’ll know exactly which tablet you should be taking!