The Types Of Painkillers Explained


Painkillers come in two different types: non-narcotic and narcotic. Narcotic painkillers are related to morphine and are mainly used for treating severe pain. Non-narcotic painkillers, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin are found in most over-the-counter products. Here you’ll discover more about some common ingredients used in medicine and how to take them safely.


Ibuprofen - What is it?


Ibuprofen is a NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) - the term used for a whole group of medications that have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. It therefore works at the site of pain by blocking the production of the chemicals that cause pain, swelling and inflammation in the tissues of the body (these chemicals are called prostaglandins). Sodium Ibuprofen is a modified version of the NSAID, ibuprofen. When lysine is added to ibuprofen it helps the painkiller dissolve faster because lysine is more water soluble.


What can it be used for?


It’s effective for headaches, backache, muscular aches, rheumatic pain, neuralgia, cold and flu symptoms and especially effective on pains such as period pain, dental pain, fevers and any pain accompanied by swelling.


Paracetamol - What is it?


Paracetamol (also known as “Acetaminophen”) is a non-opioid analgesic. It is thought to inhibit an enzyme produced in the brain which is involved in the transmission of pain, but no one is exactly sure of how it works.


What can it be used for?


Can be used for headaches, backache, muscular aches, rheumatic pain, neuralgia, cold and flu symptoms, period pain, dental pain, fevers. Because it doesn’t have anti-inflammatory properties, you can’t use paracetamol to reduce swelling.


Aspirin - What is it?


Aspirin (also known as “Acetylsalicylic Acid”) was first found in willow bark and was the first modern medicine to come into common usage. Aspirin is also a NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug).


What can it be used for?


Relieving pain and fever, and reducing inflammation. Aspirin is also prescribed by some doctors to help thin the blood in people with ischaemic heart disease.


Codeine - What is it?


Codeine is an opioid painkiller. It works directly on the site of pain receptors and through the spinal chord (to alter the way pain is perceived). In combination with ibuprofen it can be effective against pain.


What can it be used for?


Muscular aches, period pain, headaches, backache, rheumatic pain, dental pain, migraine and neuralgia.