The painkiller drugs or pain medications are widely used drugs for getting relief from pain. The pain medications have over the time proved beneficial in bringing much needed relief from pain due to surgeries, back injuries, arthritis, and migraine etc. Apart from its pain relieving properties, painkiller drugs have potential to cause addiction and have various side effects. The painkiller drugs reduce pain either by suppressing the formation of chemicals in body that cause pain or by binding to the opioid receptors of Central Nervous System (CNS).
The painkiller drugs are classified mainly into two types: Non-Narcotic and Narcotic.
Non-Narcotic painkiller drugs: The Non-Narcotic type includes the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). The NSAIDs work by stopping the formation of chemicals that cause pain in the body. Some of the common painkillers under NSAID type are Ibuprophen and acetaminophen.
Narcotic painkiller drugs: Narcotic painkiller drugs can be further divided into opiates and opioids. Opiates are narcotic opioid alkaloids found naturally in poppy plant. Opioids are chemical substances that bind to opioid receptors in CNS. Opioids are used in medications for their analgesic property to get relief from pain. However, the opioids also have potential to cause addiction.
The painkiller drugs also loosely include Paracetamol, Tricyclic antidepressants, and Anticonvulsants.
Medical Use of Painkillers
The painkiller drugs are mostly used for their pain relieving properties. The most common painkiller is Aspirin which is used to cure minor pains, aches, to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. Aspirin is also used for its anti-clotting effect. Small doses of it are used for long term to prevent heart attack, strokes, and blood clot formation. Painkillers are mostly used to cure minor aches, headache, muscular ache, tooth ache, back ache, joint pains, arthritis, migraine, and in recovering from surgery. The painkillers are also used to treat pain due to inflammation.
Apart from its analgesic properties, the painkillers can also cause severe addiction due to the feeling of euphoria they create. Many Over-The-Counter (OTC) and Prescription painkillers are abused due to addiction. When used under prescription, painkillers reduce pain but when abused it can have several adverse effects on health. Many people get addicted to painkillers particularly after surgery as they take painkillers for long term to numb the pain but develop tolerance and require higher doses every time. The patient can not cope up with the withdrawal symptoms and becomes dependent on the effects which the painkiller gives.
Researches have shown that painkillers use can lead to cardiovascular complications, slowing down of heart rate, and even possible heart attack (myocardial infarction). Taking more than prescribed amount of painkillers can cause fluctuations in the heart rate. The possible side effects of painkillers on heart include thrombosis (blood clot) and stroke.
Painkillers can also cause constipation among the persons taking them under prescription. Some laxative substances should be used while using painkillers. Patients should ensure that they take high fibrous diet and consume lot of water and other liquids while using painkillers.
Consuming painkillers containing opioids can even cause mental side effects like hallucinations, confusion, nightmares etc. Patients should consult the doctor before taking painkiller medications and take medications in prescribed amount.
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By James Foster MBA
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