Different painkillers work better for different types of pain and some painkillers may not be appropriate for some people. For example, children under 16 should never be given aspirin except on medical advice. Some painkillers are generally available in shops, some in pharmacies and others are only available with a prescription.
If you are not sure about which painkiller is right for you, seek medical advice. Only take the dose recommended on the packet or as advised by a medical professional. To avoid taking too high a dose, remember, some pain killing ingredients can also be found different products. For example, paracetamol may also be found in cold remedies.
Painkilling ingredients like paracetamol and ibuprofen may also be found in branded medicines, but generic versions are usually cheaper.
Aspirin is another type of NSAID and is often recommended for headaches, toothache or period pain. It should never be given to under 16s.
Codeine is often used in combination with paracetamol in a single medicine as tablets or to be dissolved in water.
Paracetamol and low-dose codeine is known as co-codamol and is available over the counter from pharmacies. Higher doses of codeine are available on prescription.
Codeine-containing medicines should not be given to children under 12 years old. Codeine should only be given to children over 12 for short-term moderate pain, at the lowest possible dose and only if it cannot be relieved by other painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Codeine painkillers can cause dependency.
Amitriptyline and gabapentin
For pain caused by damaged nerves or sensitivity linked to nerve problems, such as shingles or neuropathy, medication that's also used for epilepsy and depression may be recommended.
Morphine and similar treatments, including oxycodone, fentanyl and buprenorphine, are very strong painkillers prescribed by GPs or pain specialists. The delivery of the painkiller may be in different forms, including wearing medicated patches.
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