There has been a lot of debate recently about the marketing and sale of painkillers, especially those which claim to target specific areas of pain. As a result, the Australian government has called for products from popular brand Nurofen, which also sells products in the UK, to be taken off shelves. Having an understanding of the best medicines to take for common ailments can not only help save you money, but help do your bit to ease the strain on the NHS too.


Why self-care is important

As we begin 2016, self-care remains a top priority as leading health bodies continue to seek solutions to ease pressure on NHS services. Knowing how to treat ourselves at home for common ailments is not only convenient, but also keeps our doctor surgeries free for people in more serious need. However, many of us are prone to choosing medicines which are labelled to treat specific conditions such as back pain or migraines, when generic types (which are also cheaper) can often be just as effective.


Recommended medication for different conditions

Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory painkiller which can help to treat a number of symptoms including headaches, toothaches, back pain and period pains. If you’ve suffered a sports injury, then ibuprofen could help to ease the swelling, making it a useful medication for treating symptoms of osteoporosis and arthritis. It can also help to control a fever caused by cold or flu.

Paracetamol Paracetamol is commonly used to treat cold and flu symptoms as well as help to relieve headaches. It is typically reserved for non-nerve pain.

Aspirin Aspirin is another type of anti-inflammatory drug which can be used to treat toothache and some headaches. It isn’t particularly recommended as a painkiller, or for use by those under the age of 16, but it is taken in low-doses by many each day to help prevent heart conditions and blood clots.

Codeine Codeine, when combined with paracetamol (co-codamol) can be used to treat more severe headaches and pain symptoms, but because it comes with the risk of dependency, it should be used only when typical painkillers such as ibuprofen are proving ineffective, and should only be used for a short duration.

Decongestants Decongestants feature a number of ingredients which can help to ease blocked sinuses, although not their underlying causes. As some medicines feature a combination of decongestants and pain medication, be wary of not double-dosing.


Chronic pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, particularly migraines, then it is important that you consult your GP on the best ways to manage it. Most painkillers are only recommended as a solution for a few days, and if your symptoms persist, it’s then time to see your doctor. For more information on dealing with chronic pain, the NHS website has extensive resources and information.

If you’re looking to save money on pain medication, compare the labels on different brands and check their ingredients – you may find that unbranded painkillers feature the same ingredients, but come at a fraction of the cost. Make sure you stock up on all of the essentials during winter, which will make it easier for you to care for common conditions at home.