Analgesics, or painkillers, come in many varieties. Most consumers know the various brand names, but may not know that they are in different pharmacological classifications. For instance, Tylenol and Motrin are two drugs that behave differently on the human body to achieve similar results. While most consumers do not think about what they put into their bodies, maybe they should. They would find that the various painkillers could markedly affect the body differently. The most popular over-the-counter classifications of painkillers are acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and salicylates.
One of the most popular over-the-counter drugs used to relieve pain is Tylenol. Tylenol is the brand name for acetaminophen or paracetamol. Consumers take acetaminophen to relieve mild to moderate pain such as for osteoarthritis or headaches. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) says that acetaminophen works by changing the way the body senses pain (2012). Anderson (2008) explains further, “Paracetamol mediates a central analgesic effect through the activation of the descending serotonergic pathways” (p. 915). Generic brands, some forms of Anacin, Panadol, and various infant and children’s products also contain acetaminophen. Recently, recalls removed many of these acetaminophen products from store shelves because they caused serious complications in some children. Consumers must follow dosage directions carefully because long periods of high dosage can cause liver damage.
NSAIDs are another category of over-the-counter analgesics. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine that relieves most common pain, inflammation, and fever as in arthritis. NCBI says, “[Ibuprofen] works by stopping the body's production of a substance that causes pain, fever, and inflammation” (2010). Motrin and Advil are popular brand names of analgesics that contain ibuprofen. Naproxen is another NSAID available over-the-counter....
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