- Many analgesic products are available over the counter
- Choice of product depends primarily on site and severity of pain
- Remember to consider any interactions or contra-indications e.g. aspirin should not be used for analgesia by those taking warfarin, aspirin should not be used by those under 16 years old etc
Types of analgesia available over the counter
1. Oral analgesics
- Paracetamol - 1-2 up to QDS PRN. Patient counselling: avoid other paracetamol-containing products, no more than eight in 24 hours, dispersible preparations may be useful if patient has difficulty with tablets.
- NSAIDs e.g. ibuprofen and aspirin. Patient counselling: Check for drug interactions or contraindications (e.g. check if taking blood pressure medicines or if has history of stomach ulcers). Remember some asthmatics suffer bronchoconstriction when taking NSAIDs. Make sure this medicine is taken with food. Aspirin is not to be used by those under 16 years old due to risk of Reye's Syndrome. NSAIDs should not be sold for analgesia in pregnancy
- Co-codamol - Combination of paracetamol and low-dose codeine. 1-2 up to QDS PRN. Patient counselling: Patient may feel drowsy or become constipated. Avoid other paracetamol-containing products. Should be taken for no longer than 3 days. Ideally, use paracetamol alone if this can control the pain and only use co-codamol when required
2. Topical analgesics
- Gels - particularly useful in muscular pains.
- Lozenges - useful for treating a sore throat. Often contain anaesthetic agents that numb the pain. Should be used when required. Those containing sucrose or glucose should be avoided by diabetics.
- Throat sprays - useful for treating a sore throat. Should be used when required. Care in asthmatics
- Oral gels - Useful for the relief of mouth ulcers, toothache, denture pain etc. Apply to affected area with a clean finger.
3. Other preparations used for pain relief
- Rubefacient sprays, gel etc - open blood capillaries at the affected site, filling the area with blood and producing a soothing sensation. May act as a counter irritant but mechanism is poorly understood
- Cooling packs