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