OTC Pain Medication and Fever Reducers
(Analgesics, Antipyretics)

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Introduction to OTC pain medication and fever reducers

Pain is the most common reason for people to seek medical advice, pain medicine is the most frequently purchased over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Fever is one of the most common reasons that children visit the doctor. Moreover, one in five emergency room visits for children is due to fever. Since OTC medicines that are effective in treating pain also are effective at reducing fever, they will be considered together in this article.

What are the classifications of pain?

Pain can be classified as acute, chronic non-malignant, chronic malignant. Headaches are the most common cause of pain and can be considered a separate class of pain.

Acute pain

Acute pain is experienced by everyone; it is usually short in duration with an identifiable pathology, a predictable prognosis, and treatment that usually includes analgesics. Acute pain is most often due to injuries. Examples of injuries include:

Acute pain from such injuries can respond well to OTC pain medication. Muscle soreness also may respond well to heat and massage.

Chronic non-malignant pain

Chronic non-malignant pain often begins as acute pain, but it continues beyond the typical time expected for resolution of the problem or persists or recurs for other reasons. It is a type of pain associated with progressive, debilitating diseases such as arthritis. Treatment for chronic non-malignant pain can include OTC medications . However, because of the chronic nature of the pain, regular use of OTC medications can lead to side effects.

Chronic malignant pain

Chronic malignant pain is pain associated with advanced, progressive diseases (often fatal) such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and terminal kidney disease. OTC medications for pain may be useful for the management of chronic malignant pain. However, stronger prescription medications are usually necessary.

What are the types of headaches?

Headaches are the most common reason that pain medications (analgesics) are taken. Headaches can be classified into three types:

  1. muscle contraction,
  2. migraine or vascular, and
  3. sinus.

Muscle contraction headache

A muscle contraction headache, the most common type, results from the continuous tightening of the muscles in the upper back, neck, or scalp. This type of headache often is described as a tight, pressing, or throbbing sensation of the head. It can be brought on by emotional stress and anxiety ("tension headaches"). Acute muscle contraction headaches generally respond well to OTC analgesics, but chronic muscle contraction headaches can require physical therapy or relaxation techniques.




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