Monday, December 15, 2008

Celine Dion and Aspirin! (Hints on using pain killers)

Scientists have been and still trying to understand the exact mechanisms of pain as well as methods/theories on how to stop pain.
A friend once told me that the song "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion kills his pain ! :)
There are alot of natural methods today claiming to ease and relief pain such as meditation, music therapy and Yoga, etc.

So, if these don't work with you and you are just a normal person who takes a pill when you get a headache, let's focus on some important things you should know about analgesics/ pain killers. This info might be useful for doctors and medical students as well.

There are 2 important types of drugs :

1) Drugs with analgesic effect only :

These drugs only reliefs pain. The most common and famous drug in this group in Paracetamol (Acetaminophen).
A very widespread drug with many generic all over the world. It's very safe and has a great safety profile, only toxic when taken in very large doses. It also has an Antipyretic effect which means anti-fever. It's said to be safe in pregnancy, too.

Some famous brand names are : Panadol, Tylenol, Feverall and Aceta.
Paracetamol is used to relief mild pain as headache, mild arthritis and fever.

2) Drugs with analgesic AND anti-inflammatory effect: (NSAIDs)

[Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs = NSAIDs]

These drugs has 3 actions : analgesic , antipyretic and anti-inflammatory actions. Together with their pain reducing and antipyretic effects; they reduce the underlying inflammation in conditions such as :

  • Acute gout.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Metastatic bone pain
  • Inflammatory Arthropathies.
  • Also used in migrain and headache as they have an analgesic effect.
There's a wide varity of these drugs and alot of drug families. Some famous examples of NSAIDs include :

-Aspirin (Salicylic acid derivatives).
-Ibuprofen, ketoprofin.
-Diclofenac (voltarin).
-Piroxicam, meloxicam.

So in conditons where both inflammation and pain are present, these drugs are used. But when only pain is present(as in headache), the drugs in the first group (i.e. Paracetamol) are much more recommended and better as they have less side effects.

It's important to note that the effect of pain killers is different to each individual! Every person responds to a specific dose. Some individuals feel reliefed after only 1 tablet of panadol while others may need higher doses. Also, a certain drug ma produce an effect in some persons but not in others; in such case, use another drug.

Important Notes (Precautions for prescribing pain killers/analgesics) :
  • Select the proper drug for the patient as regard his age, general condition, liver condition. Avoid long term use of these drus if possible.
  • Never exceed the therapeutic dose.
  • It's better to avoid NSAIDs when there's no inflammation.
  • Never combine more than one NSAID, this will only increase the side effects without getting better results.
  • Consider variations of effect according to each patient (as above).
Related links:
Natural Gout Treatments