Choosing a pain killer? Be safe - read this first.

Think choosing a non-prescription pain relief medication is simple? Know the facts before you reach for that bottle of pills because taking the wrong product could be dangerous. Always consult your Doctor or speak to your Pharmacist before taking a pain medication.

  • What do you need it for? - Analgesics (pain relief medications) are used for many things: reducing fever, relieving headaches, body aches and pains, toothache, cramps, arthritis pain and more. There are two main types of widely available ones: antipyretics (means ‘anti-fever’), mainly acetaminophen and a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) that include ibuprofen, ASA and naproxen sodium. There are also analgesics that are available behind the counter (containing codeine). Some work better for certain types of relief, for example, ibuprofen is often recommended for toothache after a dentist visit as most toothache pain is from inflammation. Then there is acetaminophen, which is great for reducing fevers.
  • Pain is actually a symptom - If you need pain relief, try to understand what is causing your pain before you treat it. The pain may be from inflammation or injury, be a short term, or chronic (long lasting) pain. Knowing the cause and type of pain will make it easier to treat. If you have any doubt, talk to your Doctor.
  • Existing health issues? Do you have liver or kidney issues, ulcers or other bleeding problems, high blood pressure, or heart disease? Do you take prescription medications? Do you have 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day? If so, don’t take chances. Speak to your Pharmacist or Doctor first and have them help you choose the pain relief medicine that is right for you. For example, if you have ulcers, asthma, take blood thinners or certain blood pressure medications, corticosteroids, oral hypoglycemic agents, or lithium, it is likely that you’ll be advised to avoid medications like ibuprofen, ASA and naproxen sodium.
  • Always read and follow the label. First read the cautions and contraindications to check that the product is safe for you. Make sure you take the correct dose and never exceed the maximum amount per day, unless your Doctor says otherwise.
  • Beware of overdosing by mistake – some combination medications, such as back pain relief medications or cough and cold medicines, already contain an analgesic for pain or fever relief.
  • Use them as briefly as possible – some prescription pain relief medications are addictive if used long term. Speak to your Doctor if you find that your pain is not gone after a reasonable length of time. There may be other ways to get relief.
So once you know which ingredient is right for you, how do you choose from the many different types, shapes and sizes? Enteric coated products dissolve in your intestines and not in your stomach (avoiding upset), film coated products are easier to swallow than uncoated versions and liquid filled capsules dissolve rapidly. Just select the shape and type that you find easiest to take.

To make your choice easier, Life Brand has a wide range of top quality, clearly labelled products to choose from, such as enteric coated Daily Low Dose ASA 81mg, Extra Strength 500mg Acetaminophen Film-coated Caplets, or Ibuprofen Liquid Capsules. Ask your Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist to help you select one.


ASA - not just an analgesic

Life Brand Low dose ASA is often used for Physician-supervised long term preventative therapy for adults. But it’s not for everyone. Talk to your Doctor before starting to take 81mg ASA as you may have medical conditions, or be on other medications, that mean you should not take it.