Knowing The Best OTC Pain Relief Medications
What is an acute pain?
There are two general options when it comes to pain relief medications. The first group of medications for pain management is the prescription-only medications. These are the medications that are somewhat difficult to purchase online and in many registered stores. You need to be guided with the prescription dispensed by the attending physician in order to order and purchase your pain relief medications. And then there is the other group of pain relief medications. And this group of pain relief medications is easily accessible online, and can be purchased even if you are not armed with the prescription dispensed by your doctor. These are your over-the-counter options- these are pain relief medications that can be purchased just over the counter, no other questions asked. Now there are two major types of the OTC medications that can be used to treat and manage the pain- the acetaminophen and the NSAIDs or the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Here’s a simple guide illustrating the difference between the two major types of pain relief medications that can be had without the usual prescriptions.
Understanding acetaminophen and its mechanism
Acetaminophen is part of the class of drugs known in the market as analgesics and antipyretics. Analgesics are the medications that are used to relieve pain, and antipyretics on the other hand help in treating fever. Though this group of pain relief medications is known to relieve pain, the exact mechanism on how these medications work is still unclear. Using clinical evaluations and tests, this group of pain relief medications helps the patient by increasing the person’s threshold for pain. Fever is also managed by acting on the heat-regulating center in the person’s brain. In the simplest sense, this tells the brain of the patient to lower the body temperature the moment the brain senses that the temperature is high. This group of medications is available in varied formulations which could actually help the patients. This is available as a liquid suspension, in chewable tablets (which could be best for children), as coated caplets and suppositories. In terms of dosage, the most common dosage for these medications comes in 325, 500 and 650mg.
How different is the NSAIDs from the acetaminophen?
The other grouping of OTC pain relief medications is the NSAIDs. These medications come in many forms, in different brands. The most common examples include Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Keep in mind though that there are some pain relief medications that may contain both the components for the NSAID and the components for the Acetaminophen. And examples of these products or brands include Excedrin.
How the OTC pain relief medications work the pain?
The NSAIDs are known to address pain and fever by reducing the level of prostaglandins that are produced in the body. These are the substances that that cause that sensation of ‘pain’ in the person. At the same time, these are also the substances that help control the temperature in the person’s body.
Exactly what kinds of pain are addressed by these OTC options?
Both these two types of OTC medications are effective in relieving mild to moderate pain linked to headaches, muscle aches and even stiffness. Swelling can also be treated and managed by the NSAIDs, but this is not associated with the intake of Acetaminophen. For other types of pain, these over the counter options many prove helpful as well. For example, the use of the OTC pain relief medications are best used against pain associated with arthritis, back pain and pain right after an operation. For milder pain, the best choice would be the Acetaminophen. Consider these pain relief medications as the safer between the two, and can be used for a long period of time. In a way, it can be said that the over the counter options are the primary option when it comes to pain management. But when these OTC options are no longer enough and can no longer address moderate to severe pain, then the prescription pain relief medication is recommended.
Also, there are situations where the intake of the OTC pain relief medications is not recommended. For example, you are not advised to take Acetaminophen if you have a serious liver and kidney disease. This is also not recommended if you have taken more than 3 drinks of alcohol in the day, and this is not recommended if you are already taking other pain relief medications that contain the same ingredients. There are some restrictions as well in the taking of OTC NSAIDs, like aspirin. This is not recommended for someone who has a heart or kidney disease. And not recommended for someone who has already consumed alcohol.