Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help relieve pain or lower a fever. Over-the-counter means you can buy these medicines without a prescription.
The most common types of over-the-counter pain medicines are acetaminophen and NSAIDs.
Pain medicines are also called analgesics. Each kind of pain medicine has benefits and risks. Some types of pain respond better to one kind of medicine than to another kind. What takes away your pain might not work for someone else.
Taking these pain medicines before exercising is okay. But do not overdo the exercise just because you have taken the medicine.
For children, read label to learn how much medicine you can give to your child at one time and for the entire day. This is known as the dosage. Talk to your pharmacist or your child’s health care provider if you are not sure about the correct amount. Do not give children medicine that is meant for adults.
Other tips for taking pain medicines:
Acetaminophen is known as a non-aspirin pain reliever. It is not a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is described below.
Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter NSAID if you:
Medications for pain non narcotic; Drugs for pain non-narcotic; Analgesics; Acetaminophen; NSAID; Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; Pain medicine - over-the-counter; Pain medicine - OTC
Cohen SP, Raja SR. Pain. In: Goldman L, eds. Goldman'sCecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 29.
Zhou YL, Principles of pain management. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 44.
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles CA; Department of Surgery at Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland OR; Department of Surgery at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne WY; Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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