Doctors answered whether painkillers are harmful

Anna CherkasovaSociety
Painkillers have different mechanisms of action

Pain is a sensation that occurs in response to severe irritation of the nervous system. Everyone in the world has experienced it at some point in their lives. It can be short-lived or chronic, and it also indicates the development of many diseases. Usually, when it occurs, we are used to using painkillers, not caring about the composition or contraindications.

The occurrence of pain is a complex process, so there is no single pill that would help to quench it in the same way. The RxList publication has told us about the differences in pain medications and their benefits.

Evidence-based medicine could not exist without analgesics, because they help relieve the discomfort caused by injury, illness, surgery, or chronic disease. As you can see, there are many conditions in which analgesics are necessary, but it would be a great mistake to use them uncontrollably, because it can only do harm.

What kind of analgesics are there?

The modern pharmacological field offers a variety of remedies for pain relief. Most of them are sold in pharmacies around the clock, but for some it is mandatory to have a doctor's prescription. Free access to drugs does not exempt from consulting a specialist, because the mechanism of action of analgesics may be different, i.e. a remedy for nervous pain cannot be used to relieve arthritis symptoms.

Over-the-counter analgesics include:

Low-acting drugs (such as those based on ibuprofen) and acetaminophen. Such medications are designed to relieve short-term headache or muscle pain, menstrual cramps, minor sprains, etc.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They reduce the production of substances that irritate nerve endings and cause inflammation and pain.

Topical medicines. These come in the form of creams, gels, plasters, etc. and are applied directly to the affected area. Such medications contain aspirin, lidocaine or capsaicin to block pain receptors in the brain.

A prescription is required for the following list of analgesics:

Myorelaxants. Allow you to reduce pain in tight muscles by calming the central nervous system, as well as relieve spasms.

Antidepressants. Such drugs work better for chronic pain, including migraine. Tricyclic drugs, which reduce the transmission of pain through the spinal cord, have the greatest analgesic effect.

Steroids. Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory drugs. Like non-steroidal drugs, they keep the body from producing substances that cause pain and inflammation. This kind of medicine is prescribed for migraines, back pain, and severe arthritis.

Opioids. They are a group of the strongest analgesics based on narcotic substances, particularly morphine or codeine. These drugs change the way your brain responds to pain. Because opioids are addictive, doctors prescribe them selectively for severe chronic pain and for a period of time.

The main difference between over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids is that with the former, increasing the dosage does not improve pain relief, whereas using narcotic analgesics allows you to increase the dose as the pain increases, keeping in mind the possible side effects.

Can painkillers be harmful?

Any medicine, even freely available, has certain indications and should be taken only after consulting a doctor. Only then will it work to solve a specific problem while not harming other body systems. If this rule is not followed, analgesics can have a negative effect on the body.

For example, uncontrolled intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding, as well as vascular problems, including heart attack or stroke. At the same time, corticosteroids can lead to adrenal insufficiency, atherosclerosis, cataracts, glaucoma, elevated blood sugar and blood pressure, suppression of the immune system, etc.

Myorelaxants often cause drowsiness, confusion, and loss of balance. Sedatives, especially when combined with alcohol or other medications, can lead to the same condition. People with liver disease should also be cautious.

Antidepressants cause dry mouth, trouble urinating and constipation, can lead to an accelerated heart rate and decreased blood pressure, can cause fatigue, and can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Frequent use of opioids causes constipation, nausea, and sedation. In the long term, the use of such drugs can lead to sexual dysfunction and addiction, and an accidental overdose can result in death.

As you can see, even our usual analgesics are not a toy at all. Pain is only a symptom of some disease, which we quench with painkillers for a while instead of identifying and treating the cause itself. Timely examination and adherence to recommendations will allow you to prescribe the right and effective remedy that will relieve you from pain for a long time.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about numerous lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of opioid drugs. Plaintiffs point to the manufacturers' reduction of the negative effects of potent painkillers.

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