How do pain killers work? What are their side effects?

Painkiller, as indicated by the word itself, diminishes, eliminates or kills pain in the body.  There can be various routes to administer painkillers. Few of them are mentioned as follows:

  • Via injection, such as morphine,
  • Orally in small quantities like NSAIDS. Oral forms can be syrups, capsules, or tablets.
  • Sometimes these painkillers are injected rectally. In that case, they are known as suppositories.
  • Topically, in the form of an ointment, cream or gel. It is used mostly when the pain is superficially for example in muscles or skin
  • There are three types of painkillers. All three of them have different mechanisms and different means of activations. But how do they actually work, is a very common question?

Paracetamol: Paracetamol’s effect is directed towards the brain. It blocks the pain origination and conduction from its source. It reduces prostaglandins formation, which is an inflammatory product responsible for pain origination. These inflammatory chemicals can be found throughout the body but are mainly found in the brain. It can help relieve you from pain and also sidelines fever. Paracetamol is comparatively a safe drug to consume with minimum side effects if properly taken. Liver damage only occurs when the user is prolonged or the drug overdosed.

NSAIDS:  NSAIDs include ibuprofen and aspirin. They also inhibit the formation of inflammatory chemicals that are prostaglandins, but not by targeting in the brain; instead, they target its inhibition in the whole body. As they do not produce their effect in the brain, they disturb various bodily functions and organs while they inhibit prostaglandins throughout the body. So if you are taking a NSAID for stomach pain, the target is your stomach lining. There are minor side effects from NSAIDs, which is not always necessary. Life threatening side effects are rare e.g. Stomach bleeding, Heart problems and Bleeding in the gut.

Opioids: Drugs belonging to this family, target their effects on the receptors located mainly in the brain and gut. They may also work on different receptors in different areas in the body. They not only reduce pain but also increase the pain threshold. If a person is addicted, consult your doctor. Common side effects are Nausea, Constipation, Vomiting, Dry mouth, Drowsiness, and confusion.

6 tips for the patients who take pain killers: There are certain points which one should keep in mind while consuming these drugs:

1-If the pain occurs once, take the medicine once, but if it’s a prolonged trouble, take it at its designated time

2-Do not skip your dosage.

3-Always eat something before taking pain killers, as they have a strong effect and precaution is needed.

4-If you don’t eat before taking it, you may have internal bleeding or stomach ache.

5-Don’t take these painkillers for a long period of time unnecessarily, unless advised by a doctor.

6-Always inform your doctor if you are taking some other medicines as well. Those medicines might interact with these painkillers and result in dangerous consequences.