We all suffer from pain during our lives – an occasional headache, sprains and strains from work and sport, body aches, sore throats when we pick up a cold, and joint pain from arthritis as we age, to name just a few. Fortunately, there are options available to assist in reducing acute pain when it does occur. For persistent or chronic pain, always consult your healthcare professional to ensure optimal management.
Paracetamol is a common pain reliever and is often recommended for mild or moderate pain. It is safe for infants to take from the age of one month to assist in managing fever and pain in syrup forms, and available in tablets for adults. It is relatively gentle on the stomach. Always follow dosing directions carefully, as exceeding the recommended dose can cause liver damage. If you are unsure of what dose to use, ask your pharmacist to provide advice on what dose is best, and to see if it is safe to take alongside any other medicines you may be taking.
Ibuprofen is classed as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). It is also used to manage mild or moderate pain and fever and is only recommended for short-term use. Ibuprofen is not suitable for people with health conditions as high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, kidney problems, or people with a history of severe acid reflux or stomach ulcers. It has a small chance of triggering asthma attacks, so should be used with caution by asthmatics(1). It can also interact with prescription medications, so be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist to decide if ibuprofen is a suitable pain relief option for you.
Codeine is a stronger opiate pain reliever available at low doses over the counter on a pharmacist’s advice, or at higher strengths via prescription. It is sold in combination with either paracetamol or ibuprofen when provided over the counter.
However, from 1 February 2018, the supply of any codeine pain relief will only be available via prescription from your doctor. For those currently using these over the counter codeine medicines to manage stronger pain, please ensure you consult your doctor before this date and develop a pain management strategy with them, to avoid being in a position where you are without adequate pain relief available.