At some point, we experience pain. It is not merely a disease, but a symptom that indicates that there is something wrong with the body. Depending on the severity, pain can be tolerable or in worst levels, it disrupts the whole well being of an individual. The occurrence of pain is very common and needless to say, over the counter pain medications are made available to alleviate it. There are different varieties sold in the market today and it can get really confusing. How do these drugs differ from each other? Are there similarities between them?
Due to the overlapping of the common uses of these medications, some people are led to believe that all pain relievers are the same. But little do they know that these medications may have similarities, although, they are not entirely the same. Being educated about a drug before taking it is very essential. However, most people who self medicate doesn’t know anything about the medication besides its indication. This practice is very dangerous and detrimental.
Drugs that are commonly confused are the NSAIDs and the Aspirin. Basically, NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) is a drug classification and Aspirin among other over the counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen belongs to this class. There are also prescription drugs that belong to NSAIDs: meloxicam, celecoxib and indomethacin to name a few. But since the confusion lies between NSAIDs and Aspirin further information is provided below for clarification purposes between the two.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)
The exact mechanism of the action of the drugs in this class is not entirely known. However, these medications are thought to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandin is a type of hormone that causes pain and inflammation. Drugs belonging to this class may have different effects as well as side effects depending on the individual. They have different benefits and drawbacks. So it is important to familiarize yourself to the drug before using it.
NSAIDs generally has three beneficial effects, these are:
Analgesic is a formal term for pain killers. It is actually derived from the Greek words “an” which means without and “algia” which means pain. The analgesic effect of NSAIDs is the one responsible for relieving, reducing or alleviating pain experience.
The antipyretic effect of NSAIDs reduces body temperature during febrile episodes. Thus, the drugs that belong to this class are also indicated for fever.
From the word itself, NSAIDs can decrease or prevent inflammations. In addition, this class is called non-steroidal just to differentiate them from steroids, which has also an anti-inflammatory capacity.
Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic Acid)
As mentioned, Aspirin is not different from NSAIDs, but it actually belongs to its class. It is the oldest analgesic on the market. In fact, salicylic acid (an active component of Aspirin) found in willow bark has been used as a pain killer for centuries. It was chemically isolated for the first time in the 1800’s thus Aspirin came to light.
Aspirin has been sold over the counter, but this doesn’t mean that it is harmless. When misused and abused, it can cause harmful side effects such as bleeding. The reason for this is, besides the three general effects of NSAIDs, Aspirin also has an antiplatelet effect. It is believed to inhibit platelet aggregation, which is beneficial to prevent thrombosis and embolism, but with high doses, it can lead to bleeding.
Pain, fever and inflammation can be relieved or alleviated by over the counter medications. However, bear in mind that not because it is categorized as such, you can use it anytime these signs and symptoms manifest. It is important to seek for professional medical advice to know what appropriate medications you should take. Moreover, you also have to know the root cause of pain in order to have an effective therapeutic regimen. Be mindful of the medications you take, sometimes it may do more harm than good.