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Step 1: mild pain

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Your doctor may advise you to try an over-the-counter painkiller if your pain is mild. You may be able to cope yourself, at home. There's not much research on how well these drugs work for sickle cell pain. But you could try paracetamol or ibuprofen.

  • Paracetamol. People often take paracetamol to help with mild pain and fever. Paracetamol doesn't usually cause side effects. But you should be careful not to take too much, as an overdose can damage your liver. This damage can be bad enough to kill you.

  • Ibuprofen. This is a type of painkiller called a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Brand names include Nurofen. You can also get own-brand ibuprofen from supermarkets and pharmacies. A drawback of ibuprofen and other NSAIDs is that they can irritate the lining of your stomach. This may cause stomach ulcers or bleeding in your stomach. Taking high doses of some NSAIDs every day for a long time can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. This isn't likely to be a problem if you take an NSAID for a short time to treat pain.

Both of these drugs can be used for children. You can get them as syrups, such as Calpol. These are easier for young children to take.

Aspirin is a common painkiller, but it should not be given to children under 16. [22] It can cause a dangerous problem called Reye's syndrome.

Glossary

acute myocardial infarction

Acute myocardial infarction is what doctors call a heart attack. A heart attack is when your heart muscle gets damaged because it isn't getting enough blood and oxygen. This can happen if a branch of your coronary arteries becomes blocked. During a heart attack, you may have pain or heaviness over your chest, and pain, numbness or tingling in your jaw and left arm.

liver

Your liver is on the right side of your body, just below your ribcage. Your liver does several things in your body, including processing and storing nutrients from food, and breaking down chemicals, such as alcohol.

NSAIDs

NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. NSAIDs help with pain, inflammation and fever. They are called 'nonsteroidal' because they don't contain any steroids. Aspirin and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs.

stroke

You have a stroke when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. This damages your brain and can cause symptoms like weakness or numbness on one side of your body. You may also find it hard to speak if you've had a stroke.

ulcer

An ulcer is an open sore. Ulcers can happen in many parts of your body, such as in your stomach, and the skin of your legs, mouth, or genitals.

For more terms related to Sickle cell disease

Citations

For references related to Sickle cell disease click here.
Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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