Types of OTC Pain Relievers

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Two basic types of over-the-counter pain relievers:

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in more than 600 OTC and prescription medicines. It helps reduce pain and fever. It is available alone or in combination with other active ingredients. That is why medicines that treat colds, menstrual cramps, sore muscles, flu, and allergies often also have acetaminophen. You can find it in pills, capsules, and syrups. When a prescription medicine has acetaminophen, you might see the abbreviation “APAP” on the pharmacy container label.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the active ingredient in many medicines taken for colds, sinus pressure and allergies. menstrual cramps, and sleep. Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are all examples of NSAIDs. NSAIDs prevent the body from producing prostaglandins (pros-tuh-glan-dins). Prostaglandins perform numerous positive and necessary functions in the body, such as controlling cell growth and producing the sensation of fever to alert you of illness. NSAIDs block the so-called “bad” prostaglandins, so that those that cause you to feel pain and inflammation become dulled. However, NSAIDs also block the “good” prostaglandins, such as the ones that regulate your blood pressure and protect the lining of your stomach

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