Nonprescription Medicines and Products - Pain Relievers
There are dozens of pain-relief
products. Most contain either aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. These three
drugs, as well as naproxen, relieve pain and reduce fever. Aspirin,
ibuprofen, and naproxen also relieve inflammation. They belong to a
class of drugs called
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
When you buy pain relievers, keep in mind that generic products are
chemically equivalent to more expensive brand-name products, and they usually
work equally well.
Aspirin is widely used for relieving
pain and reducing fever in adults. It also relieves minor itching and reduces
swelling and inflammation. Aspirin comes as adult-strength (325 mg) or low-dose (81 mg). Although it
seems familiar and safe, aspirin is a very powerful drug.
- Keep all aspirin out of children's reach.
- Aspirin increases the risk of
Reye syndrome in children. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 unless your doctor tells you to
- Aspirin can irritate the stomach lining, causing bleeding or
ulcers. If aspirin upsets your stomach, try a coated brand, such as Ecotrin.
Talk with your doctor or
pharmacist to find out what may work best for
- Do not take NSAIDs if you have had an allergic reaction to this type of medicine in the past.
- Throw aspirin away if it starts to smell like
- Because aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding, it is not recommended for new injuries. Take other medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen for the first 2 or 3 days after an injury.
- If you take a blood thinner (anticoagulant), such as warfarin, or if you have gout, talk to your doctor before you take aspirin.
- High doses may result in aspirin poisoning
(salicylism). To help prevent taking a high dose, follow what the label says or what your doctor told you. Stop taking aspirin and call a doctor if any of these symptoms
- Ringing in the ears
- Rapid, deep
- If you are pregnant, check with your
doctor or pharmacist before taking a pain reliever.
Other aspirin uses
addition to relieving pain and inflammation, aspirin is effective against many
other ailments. Because of the danger of side effects and the interactions
aspirin may have with other medicines, do not try these uses of aspirin without
a doctor's supervision.
Heart attack and stroke: Aspirin in low but regular doses may help prevent heart attacks and
strokes in certain people. For more
Migraines: Regular, low-dose aspirin use may reduce the
frequency of migraine headaches. For more information, see the topic Migraine Headaches.
Other pain relievers
Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in products such as Advil and Motrin)
and naproxen (in products such as Aleve) are
aspirin, these drugs relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation. Also like
aspirin, they can cause nausea, stomach irritation, and heartburn.