Facts About Common Pain Relievers
Minor aches and pains are never fun. But they can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are common ones. They’re considered NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These drugs work by blocking certain proteins outside of the central nervous system. These proteins are part of the inflammatory process, which can cause minor pain.
Acetaminophen lives in a different class. Its course of action is actually not fully understood. But it’s thought to target a protein inside of the central nervous system, not outside like NSAIDS do. This difference is crucial. It means that acetaminophen isn’t effective for inflammation.
NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen have similar side effects. They can cause stomach bleeding, especially if too much is taken. The risk for stomach bleeding is even higher if you:
- Are older than 60
- Take blood thinners
- Have more than three alcoholic drinks a day
- Take more than recommended
- Take for longer than recommended
These pain relievers may also potentially cause allergic reactions. Symptoms like hives, rash, blisters or facial swelling can occur. Always contact your doctor if you experience any of these side effects.
Acetaminophen is generally safe as long as you take it as directed. In some individuals a skin rash may occur. Talk to your doctor if you experience this side effect. Always take your medications as directed. An overdose of acetaminophen can cause serious damage to your liver. It can even potentially be fatal.
If you have questions about your minor aches and pains or pain relievers, telehealth services can connect you to a board-certified doctor 24/7 via phone, video or the Teladoc® app.