Which Painkiller Should I Choose?

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Many people can become easily confused when perusing the over-the-counter painkiller section of their local drug store. With so many products to choose from, it can be difficult to know if you are making the right decision. True, many people have their personal favorites, and tend to stick to the medications they believe to work best. Yet, you may be left wondering if a specific product works best for certain symptoms or whether one medication is more dangerous than another.

Things To Think About

Experts agree that most painkillers act similarly when it comes to treating your pain. However, for some people with certain health conditions, such as liver disease or high blood pressure, there are safer choices. Also, you want to make sure that you are not taking too much of the medication and that it doesn’t interact with anything else you are taking. For example, people who are taking prescription blood thinners or have anemia, should stay away from certain brands of painkillers as they may have a tendency to further thin the blood.

Common Painkillers

Most people are familiar with the painkillers aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen sodium. These ingredients can be found under several brand names, and may have different dosage forms, such as tablets, capsules, caplets or gel tabs. They may also come in extended release or fast acting varieties. Here are some things to remember about each one:

  • Ibuprofen: This medication is actually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, which helps to reduce inflammation and indirectly helps with pain. Not only that, Ibuprofen can reduce fevers as well. One dose typically lasts for four to six hours. When taken consistently over time, ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and raise blood pressure.
  • Aspirin: Once a popular pain medication, ASA is now commonly used to reduce the risk of heart attacks. ASA reduces platelet congregation and helps to thin the blood. Before adding this OTC medication to your daily routine, however, you should seek counsel from a physician.
  • Acetaminophen: Most often seen under the brand name Tylenol, acetaminophen can also be used in conjunction with several other cold and flu medications. Acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, but it does help to relieve fever. This powerful pain reliever can be toxic when taken in large doses.
  • Naproxen Sodium: Naproxen is preferred by some, as it works longer in the body than most of the other over-the-counter pain relievers. It is an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen, but it stays active in the body for seven hours. This means people don’t have to take it as often.

It is important to keep in mind that certain medications work differently for certain people, as everyone has their own unique body makeup. You should always talk to your physician or pharmacist if you have any questions regarding which medication will work best for you.