Pain comes in many forms. Pain may be due to an injury, a toothache, joint inflammation due to arthritis, a muscle strain, hemorrhoids or monthly periods. All of these types of pain can be disruptive, unpleasant and make it hard to sleep. Just as pain comes in a variety of forms, there are many types of pain relief. You can take pain-relief medications orally, apply a hot or cold pack or apply a topical pain relief medication directly to the affected area.
Aspirin for Pain Relief
Aspirin is a proven effective medication for relieving aches and pains. That's why aspirin is a common ingredient in over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief products. Aspirin is available as a stand-alone tablet for easing the pain of minor injuries or joint or muscle discomfort. It has the added advantage of relieving fever as well. Most aspirin is enteric-coated or buffered so it's gentler on your stomach. If you have problems swallowing a tablet or caplet, a chewable version can deliver the same pain-relieving medication in a form that's easier to take.
Aspirin is available in a full-strength form and a lower-strength version. Always read the label carefully so you'll know how much you're taking. Extra-strength aspirin tablets are also available for relief of more severe pain including arthritis pain. For relief of headache, aspirin is often combined with other ingredients including caffeine and acetaminophen to maximize the benefits. It's also available in powder form.
What are NSAIDs?
Aspirin isn't the only medication that relieves pain. Doctors sometimes recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen for pain relief. NSAIDs block chemicals your body naturally produces in response to injury or inflammation. They're available in a variety of forms including liquid-gels, gel caps, caplets and tablets. These medications are clinically proven to relieve pain. What about discomfort that keeps you up at night? For nighttime pain relief, ibuprofen may be combined with an ingredient that can help you sleep.
What are the Advantages of Acetaminophen?
Not everyone can take NSAIDs and aspirin. If you have certain health problems your doctor may tell you to avoid these medications and use a medication that contains acetaminophen instead. Acetaminophen tends to be gentler on the stomach than aspirin or NSAIDs. It's available in standard dose and in an extra-strength formulation. For kids, there are easy-to-take acetaminophen products including those that come in a good-tasting flavored form.
Using Pain Relief Medications Safely
All medications including aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers have side effects. Always consult your doctor before taking medications to relieve pain. It's important to know what's causing the problem. Pain is a symptom and may be a sign of a chronic condition. Taking pain relief medications can sometimes mask a more serious health problem. If you have certain medical conditions, some pain medications may not be safe for you to take. Talk to your doctor about which is best for you. Always take the minimal dose necessary to relieve your pain and use pain relief medications for the shortest time possible.
Always consult a pediatrician before giving children pain medication. Anyone under the age of 19 recovering from chicken pox or flu-like illnesses can develop a serious condition called Reye's syndrome if they take aspirin products.