In part one of this article, we established that 73 per cent of persons will choose OTC medications, before seeing their doctor, we also realised that of that number 37 per cent will make OTC choices without professional assistance. As promised we will look at some common errors and interactions that have occurred when using OTC’s. Please understand that the purpose of the article is not to present a horror show, or to instill fear but rather to impress upon the reader the need for informed assistance.
Pain is common to everyone, we have all experienced the discomfort associated with pain, and have realised that certain medicines can reduce pain, some effectively, others just barely. What is not realised is that certain painkillers take the pain away through different methods and by affecting different areas of the brain.
Paracetamol or acetaminophen is used to treat pain and fever. NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. They include Advil and Voltaren. They do not block the pain but reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain signals.
Opioids are a stronger class of drug and only codeine is available over the counter however it must be combined with paracetamol or a NSAID in order to be sold as an OTC. They change the perception we have of the pain
Fear of adverse effects of pain medications often compromises the efficacy of treatments as sometimes we under medicate. Using doses lower than recommended is a waste of the treatment because the only effect you get is placebo and you can still suffer from side effects. That said, adverse effects are real and serious. If the medication is not indicated for your condition or if you have increased risk factors for side effects, do not use it.
Panadol does not help at the site of pain but works at the level of the nerve and brain. It can help with fevers but generally speaking does not have anti-inflammatory effects.
Paracetamol is effective only when used at maximal recommended doses.