What are the different kinds of Pain Killers?

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Pain killers.



Painkillers also called as analgesics are used to ease physical pain caused due to injury, disease or surgery.

There are various kinds of painkillers which ar eboth natural and synthesized available in several strengths.  The pain relief stimulated by analgesics takes place either by obstructing pain signals traveling to the brain or by interfering with the brain's understanding of the signals, without generating anesthesia or loss of consciousness. Celebrity magazines most often feature stories about overdose deaths and rehab admissions due to excessive use of pain killers. Generally, painkillers are produced and traded by pharmaceutical companies. Although, some painkillers have precise healthcare uses, majority of painkillers are for common use. There are many pain killers that can be taken for minor aches and body pains. In case of mild pain, one can take simple painkillers, such as paracetamol. Alternatively, in the case of continuing or severe pain one can take morphine type opioid painkillers. Only an experienced doctor or nurse can judge which type of painkiller is best for the patient.


What is the History of Pain killer?

The earliest painkiller that was invented was the opiates. Around 3400 B.C, Opium was produced by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Sumerians. In 5th century B.C, it was used in Greece by the Hippocrates, a Greek doctor along with a drug called “salacin”, produced by a German chemist, Felix Hoffman. Salacin was forerunner of “aspirin”. Acetaminophen was produced in Germany in 19th century. In 20th century, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) were discovered. Around 1960s, the first NSAID “Indomethacin” was discovered by a Chinese chemist, Tsung-Ying Shen.


What are the types of Pain killers?

There are 2 kinds of pain killers or analgesics. They are:

  • I. Non-Narcotic Analgesics: The widely used over-the-counter, non-narcotic analgesic is Acetaminophen, also known as “Tylenol”. It is a well-liked pain-reliever as it is both effective for mild to moderate pain relief and reasonably priced. Though, it must be highlighted that the safety of acetaminophen depends on the appropriate use of the drug, according to instruction specified. If acetaminophen is not taken according to the directions on the package, one may experience dangerous side effects. For instance, taking more than 4000 mg/day of acetaminophen or taking the medicine for a long period can amplify the risk of liver damage. Acetaminophen transforms into metabolites which are eradicated from the body. By taking more than the recommended maximum daily dose of acetaminophen, large amount of toxic metabolites are generated than can be eliminated, thus affecting the liver. In addition, the risk of liver damage with acetaminophen use is also amplified by consuming alcohol.
  • II. Narcotic analgesics: This is again classified into 2 types. They are:
  •  Opiates, which are the alkaloids present in opium, a white liquid extract of unripe seeds of the poppy plant.
  • Opioids, is any medicine that will combine to opioid receptors in the central nervous system or gastrointestinal tract. They are the derivatives of opiates. In order to relieve severe or chronic pain, opioids are used in medicine as powerful analgesics. Favourably, there is no greatest extent for the dosage of opioids to be used to get pain relief. Nevertheless, the dose should be amplified steadily to facilitate the increased tolerance to adverse effects, such as respiratory depression. In spite of all these factors, there are many debates going on about opioids and their analgesic properties for treating non-malignant chronic pain, such as chronic arthritis. Few scientists assume opioids can be consumed safely for many days with negligible danger of addiction or deadly side effects. Opioids include 4 broad groups such as,

      A) Endogenous opioid peptides that are created in the body itself

      B) Opium alkaloids, like Morphin,

      C) Semi-synthetic opioids, like Heroin

      D) Completely synthetic opioids like pethidine or Demerol

Few references comprise aspirin and additional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in the group of analgesics, as they have several analgesic properties. Aspirin and NSAIDS largely have an anti-inflammatory effect, rather than being specifically analgesic.


How do anti-inflammatory painkillers work?

Painkillers mostly work by reducing the amount of prostaglandins that are produced in the body. Prostaglandins are chemicals that are discharged by cells at the places of injury. Prostaglandins are accountable for causing inflammation and swelling. They also sensitize the nerve endings which can cause pain. Anti-inflammatory pain killers prevent certain enzymes (chemicals) from working that are required to produce prostaglandins. So, as less prostaglandin is produced, there will be less inflammation and pain.


What are some popular Pain killers?

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  •  Codeine (Tylenol #2,3,4)
  •  Darvocet (Propoxyphene/Acetaminophen)
  •  Darvon (Propoxyphene)
  •  Morphine (MS Contin, Oramorph)
  •  Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone)
  •  Percocet (Oxycodone/Acetaminophen)
  •  Percodan (Oxycodone/Aspirin)
  •  Talwin NX (Pentazocine/Naloxone)
  •  Ultracet (Tramadol/Acetaminophen)
  •  Ultram (Tramadol)
  •  Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen)
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