OTC Painkillers 101

Part of life is dealing with aches and pains, some worse than others. When you need relief, you probably reach for an over-the-counter pain reliever without even thinking twice. But do you know the differences between the available types?

Acetaminophen: You probably know this medicine by the most popular brand name Tylenol. Acetaminophen works on the part of the brain that receives pain messages, as well as the part that controls body temperature. It’s typically used to relieve headaches and common aches and pains and treat arthritis and other chronic conditions that cause pain. Taking too much acetaminophen or taking it with alcohol can lead to liver or kidney damage.

NSAIDS: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs work by reducing the level of prostaglandins, or hormone-like substances, in your body that irritate your nerve endings and cause pain. NSAIDS help reduce fever, relieve pain caused by cramps, headaches and muscle aches, and reduce inflammation and the pain inflammation causes. Aspirin and ibuprofen are chemically similar and function in the same way, while naproxen is especially effective for relieving inflammation. Some common brand-name NSAIDS are Bayer (aspirin), Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). NSAIDs may cause stomach pain and may cause kidney damage if taken for too long.

As with any medication, you should be safe when taking OTC pain relievers. Always read the directions on the label before taking them. Talk to your doctor if you have chronic pain. Take only the recommended amount of medication, and do not take more than one painkiller at a time without your doctor’s okay.

Content by Lockton Dunning Benefits with info from: https://familydoctor.org/pain-relievers-understanding-your-otc-options/