Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers: Uses & Risks Associated With OTC

OTC Pain Relievers

You may have difficulty finding an OTC pain reliever that you like in a drugstore because there are so many options. But most over-the-counter pain medications may be classified into two basic categories: acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).

Generic acetaminophen is available. Ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and ketoprofen are all examples of NSAIDs. Acetaminophen and aspirin are both included in several medications.

Opioid pain medications require a prescription to purchase. One of the opioids is codeine. Many cough medications contain it. In some states, cough medications containing codeine can be bought over the counter without a prescription. Pain medications also contain codeine and acetaminophen. Please take caution when using codeine because it can cause drowsiness. Risks associated with codeine consumption include the following:

  • Diarrhea and stomach cramps
  • Abuse and misappropriation of the term
  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death
  • Breathing slowly

Lidocaine, capsaicin, and menthol are some of the other OTC pain relievers offered as patches or creams. Often, these items contain lesser amounts of prescription drugs.

Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers: Uses & Risks Associated With OTC

OTC Pain Reliever Can Be Used: 

Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in treating fever and a wide range of discomfort. Among them:

  • Throat infection
  • Pain in the back
  • Bruising following surgery
  • Exercising or engaging in physical activity might result in pain.

In addition to the discomfort of colds, flu, and sinusitis, there are also many aches. Acetaminophen acts on the areas of the brain that govern pain and temperature, lowering a fever and relieving discomfort. When you take an NSAID, your body produces fewer hormone-like molecules called prostaglandins, which lower pain and heat. These substances are implicated in the regulation of the body’s temperature. In addition, they can aggravate your nerves. You will experience discomfort as a result of this.

When it comes to relieving pain caused by swelling or inflammation, analgesics such as ibuprofen can be very effective. Sore throat, menstruation cramps, and muscle strains can all cause this. Inflammation is not helped by acetaminophen. Despite this, it effectively alleviates headaches and aches in the joints.

Also Read: Strongest OTC Muscle Pain Releiver

Risks Associated With Over-The-Counter Analgesics

Most individuals do not consider OTC pain relievers harmful because they do not require a prescription to purchase. When used as intended, they are generally regarded as safe. But there are some severe drawbacks as well. In particular, if you don’t follow the instructions, you’ll be in trouble. Keep reading to learn more.

Side Effects Might Be Life-Altering:

NSAIDs have been shown to cause stomach and digestive tract bleeding. Even at low doses, this is still true. Before using NSAIDs or other pain medicines, check with your doctor about what foods you should eat beforehand. If you’re taking these medications for an extended period, this will help prevent gastrointestinal issues. Children or teenagers should never take aspirin. Reye syndrome, a rare but possibly lethal illness, can be caused by this drug.

Too Much Of Something May Be Flawed:

Taking too many OTC pain relievers at once is one of the most severe issues. If you exceed the advised dosage of a medication, you may experience adverse health effects. The liver can be damaged and even killed if you take too much acetaminophen regularly. Acetaminophen is the most common cause of abrupt liver failure in the United States. When NSAIDs are overused, they can lead to renal dysfunction and renal failure. In the worst-case scenario, it can induce life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeds. Aspirin can be fatal if used in large doses.

Read The Labels Carefully:

NSAIDs and acetaminophen are both common constituents in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications. This is why reading the labels of all the medicines that you take is so vital. That way, you won’t mistakenly take a double dose of the same medication in two separate items.

Prescription pain relievers often contain acetaminophen or NSAIDs, which should be noted. Be aware of what’s in your doctor’s prescription medicine if you’re experiencing pain. Please don’t mix it with other over-the-counter medications. Overdosing is a real possibility if you do this. If you’re unsure, always consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Another issue is the long-term use of painkillers. Most of these drugs have a maximum recommended duration of use. This information can be found on the product’s packaging. Chronic pain, such as arthritis, can be relieved by long-term usage of certain medications. You should talk to your physician regarding this.

Medications Can Interact With Each Other:

Pain relievers can interact with other medications, particularly blood thinners, hazardously. Ask your doctor if you should avoid taking over-the-counter pain remedies if you take any prescription medicines. Pain medicines sold over the counter might also exacerbate several health concerns. So, talk to your physician about which of these is okay for you.

Before purchasing any over-the-counter medication, consult with your doctor or pharmacist. As a result of your medical history or current condition, they can advise you on which remedy is best for you. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any food or medication allergies. Tell your physician regarding any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking as well. Your supplementation regimen should include any herbal medicines or vitamins. An OTC pain reliever drug recommendation can be made based on this information.

There Are Risks Associated With Ingesting Alcohol:

Acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain medication, has been linked to alcohol abuse. Combining drinking alcohol and taking acetaminophen can cause liver damage and even death. Ask your physician before using acetaminophen if you drink three or more times a day. An NSAID’s risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers might also be increased by drinking alcohol. When taking a codeine-based OTC pain medication, alcohol should be avoided. Even death can result from the combination of alcohol and opiates. Consult your healthcare professional to check if acetaminophen is safe for you if you have liver disease or a liver condition. Dosage information is available if it is.

Children And Double-Dosing Are Not A Good Combination:

Children should be highly cautious while taking over-the-counter pain medicines. To accurately measure a dose, only use the supplied measuring device. And never exceed the suggested dosage for children. If your child is taking other medications with the same active component, make sure you don’t give them both at the same time. Such an overdose has the potential to have life-threatening consequences.

For OTC pain reliever drugs, always check the label to see if it conflicts with other medications your child is taking. Check the active component or ingredients of the OTC medicine against any other OTC or prescription medications your child is currently taking at home once you return. Ask your child’s healthcare professional or pharmacist if you are unsure how to compare the active components of the drugs. Be sure to check with your doctor before giving your child any over-the-counter medicines.

Don’t give your child aspirin unless your child’s doctor tells you to do so. Reye syndrome, a potentially fatal condition, has been linked to aspirin by children.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available over the counter at lesser dosages. People should exercise caution when using over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, as they may pose a risk to their health. Stomach bleeding can occur with all NSAIDs, but ibuprofen and naproxen can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, respectively.

OTC pain reliever anti-inflammatories are generally well tolerated by most people, provided that they are used sparingly and follow the dosage directions on the container. It’s best to confer with a physician before taking NSAIDs if you have any concerns.

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