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AnalgesicAnalgesic is the term used when referring to various painkillers.  The term is derived from the Greek words “an” (without) and “logos” (pain).  There are two classes of analgesic painkillers: narcotic and non-narcotic.  The narcotic class is only available by prescription  since they are often combined with barbiturates or addictive opiates.

Most pain relievers are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as NSAIDs.  Another form of Paracetamol, commonly known as acetaminophen. Either of these products is available in prescription form or in over-the-counter preparations.

Analgesic Products and Risks

The class of analgesic products available over-the-counter include Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Tylenol just to name a few. They work by blocking the chemicals (prostaglandins) in the body that produce inflammation.  When inflammation is reduced, the pain subsides.

The advantage of these products is that over-the-counter analgesic products are considered safe when used according to directions, however, it is important to note that acetaminophen has been associated with kidney and liver damage when misused.  Some of the prescription products that contain acetaminophen are Darvocet, Lortab, Vicodin, and Percocet.

Analgesic Side Effects

Individuals who require stronger painkillers following surgery or during chronic disease are often prescribed an analgesic that contains barbiturates or narcotics.  This combination provides an increased level of pain relief, but can also alter behavior or induce sleepiness or stupor.  Some of the most widely prescribed narcotic analgesics are Morphine, Demerol, Darvon, Kadian, Opana, Celebrex, or the corticosteroid, Prednisone.

When using these painkillers, the individual should avoid alcohol or any other medications to prevent adverse reactions such as:

  • Severe drowsiness
  • Breathing problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Staggering or loss of coordination
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Vision problems
  • Bleeding in the stomach or duodenum

Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Following prolonged use of any analgesic, withdrawal symptoms may occur when the use of the drug is discontinued.  Intentional abuse of an analgesia can result in addiction and may require professional rehabilitation services to detoxify the body and learn skills to successfully avoid further use of the drugs in the future.

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