Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer
About 40 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic or
severe pain. Many will seek relief with painkilling drugs or
analgesics. Painkillers treat the symptom of pain rather than the
This type of painkiller, such as aspirin or
acetaminophen, provides relief from pain at the site of the
injury or inflammation. (Aspirin decreases inflammation in
addition to its an algesic effect.) These are not habit forming
and they maintain effectiveness even after repeated use.
Analgesics such as codeine or morphine provide relief by
acting on the central nervous system, rather than by decreasing
inflammation. The cause of the pain does not disappear, but it is
easier to endure. These drugs also cause sedation. As the body
builds up a tolerance to the narcotic, dosages may need to be
increased. When discontinued, withdrawal symptoms can occur.
To minimize unwanted effects of painkillers:
painkillers with a full glass of milk or water. It will speed
entry into the digestive system and
Remember that all
drugs have side effects. Find out early what to expect by asking
for the drug package
insert or asking your physician.
Take only the
weakest form and the smallest dosage that will provide relief.
Don't wait until
the pain is too severe to begin your medication. Delay makes it
more difficult for
the painkiller to be
effective, and you may need a stronger dose.
If pain keeps you
from sleeping, never take a sleeping pill along with painkillers.
Use analgesics only
for the pain itself
If you are a
cigarette smoker, painkillers may be metabolized at a different
rate so tell your doctor if
switching painkillers because of side effects, ask your doctor if
he or she can
reduce your dosage.
If you are taking
a narcotic type of painkiller, check with your physician about
alternating it with
aspirin or an
acetaminophen analgesic. This will help reduce the possibility of
developing a tolerance.
Don't think of
painkillers as your only weapon against pain. There are other
(see chapter 6, Success over Stress) or cold compresses--that
can help you with.