Lots of people find temporary relief for all sorts of aches and pains with so-called over the counter medication (OTC). These are the varieties of pain relievers we keep at home and in our offices, in our purses, and in our vehicles. These are the tried and true medications that can be purchased at all sorts of stores without a prescription, without the authority of a doctor.
But not all OTC pain relievers are alike. They are designed for different uses, they operate differently in our bodies they and have different precautions. Here’s a quick review of the major classes of OTC pain relief:
|Medicine||Brand Names||Used to treat:||Precautions:|
|Aspirin||Bayer, St. Joseph||Mild aches and pains; can also be used as prevention for heart disease, reduces fever||Never to be given to children (can cause Reye Syndrome), should not be taken if you have bleeding ulcers or take a blood thinner|
|Acetaminophen||Tylenol||Headaches, arthritis, sore throats, backaches, toothaches, earaches, commonly prescribed for children||Overuse can cause liver damage, can interfere with high blood pressure medication. Should not be taken if you suffer from kidney disease.|
|Ibuprofen||Advil, Motrin, Midol||Menstrual cramps, any pain that is a result of swelling (like a muscle sprain), reduces fever||May cause upset stomach and stomach bleeding, can interfere with kidney and heart disease|
|Naproxen sodium)||Aleve||Headaches, menstrual cramps, pain from swelling (like a muscle sprain), reduces fever||May cause upset stomach and stomach bleeding, can interfere with kidney and heart disease|
|Pain relief with caffeine||Excedrin||Headaches, including migraines||May interfere with sleep|
We recommend that you consult with your health care provider if you already take prescription drugs before adding OTC pain relievers to the mix. We also urge you to take only the necessary amount and never to take more than is recommended. If you have chronic health conditions, you absolutely should consult with your physicians regarding which OTC pain relief medications are appropriate for your care. If pain persists beyond ten days while taking OTC pain relief, please contact your health care team.