Pain killers are known as analgesics in the medical world. There are different kinds of analgesics, but only two main classes: narcotic and non-narcotic (also known as non-opioid analgesic).
The two classes sometimes intermingle, meaning you can have a narcotic with added non-narcotic medication. Both classes have a purpose, can be helpful in managing pain, and also come with their own unique set of health risks/side effects. This can be a delicate balancing act when figuring out the best way to address your individualized pain management care.
It’s best to use non-narcotic pain medication when possible. Learn more about non-narcotics in Part 1 of this blog: How to Safely Manage Pain With Non-Narcotic Medications and continue reading to learn about NSAIDs.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are drugs used to treat inflammation without the use of steroids. They are also analgesic (pain reducing) medications, and may have antipyretic (fever reducing) actions.
As with nonsalicylate medications, they are best used to treat mild to moderate pain. However, unlike nonsalicylate medications, they must be taken with food to avoid upsetting your gastrointestinal tract.
Ibuprofen is a pain reducer and fever reducer as well as an anti-inflammatory. It’s best for use in mild to moderate pain, and in some cases severe pain.
It’s safe for children if using ibuprofen specially made for children (it will state this on the packaging). You can purchase ibuprofen over the counter at most drug stores. It’s also available in prescription form.
What should I take it for?
NSAIDs aid in lowering inflammation in your body. They are best taken if your pain is due to swelling or some type.
Who should not take them?
NSAIDs can come in a number of categories for pregnant women. If you are pregnant, or nursing, consult your doctor before taking any NSAID to ensure it’s a safe and suitable option for you.
You should not take NSAIDs if you have previously had a reaction to NSAIDs. If you have chronic gastric upset, ask your doctor if NSAIDs are the right choice for you. Anyone taking diuretics and antihypertension medications should not take NSAIDs as the NSAIDs may reduce the effectiveness of the medications. NSAIDs should NOT be taken with salicylates or anticoagulation medications due to potential kidney damage and toxicity.
What are the signs and symptoms of an overdose?
Overdosing will present as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, lethargy, and drowsiness. There’s a risk of damaging the central nervous system from an overdose/toxicity. If you experience these symptoms, or have taken more than the recommended dose, please seek medical attention immediately.
As with any medication, be sure to drink more water than usual when taking one of these analgesics. Your body will thank you, as will your (hopefully) soon-to-be nonexistent pain.
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