What Common Pain Medications Are Non-Aspirin?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2020
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Common non-aspirin pain medications include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. These medications are available in prescription and non-prescription strength and work through different mechanisms to provide pain relief. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and they work to decrease inflammation as well as pain. NSAIDS are commonly prescribed for those suffering from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Medications not classified as NSAIDS, although effective in relieving pain, do not have anti-inflammatory properties.

Non-aspirin NSAIDS typically relieve pain and inflammation quickly, however, they can cause side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Those with heart or kidney problems should talk to their health care providers before taking NSAIDS because in some cases, they can cause an abnormal heart rhythm and kidney damage. In addition, NSAIDS can react with other medications that a person is taking, such as blood thinners, making abnormal bleeding more likely. If an individual experiences unusual bruising, nosebleeds, excessive bleeding from the gums, or blood in the urine, he should notify his health care provider at once.

Other non-aspirin pain medications include narcotic analgesics. These medications treat moderate to severe pain and are only available by prescription. In addition, narcotic analgesics are opium-based and therefore classified as opioids. Common narcotic non-aspirin medications include codeine and hydrocodone. Not only do these medications relieve pain, they are also used in the treatment of severe coughing, and are the active ingredient in many cough suppressants.


Narcotic analgesics do not suppress inflammation like non-aspirin NSAIDS do, so they may not be an appropriate treatment for pain associated with inflammation. Although effective in the treatment of severe pain and suppressing a cough, these medications can cause dependence and side effects such as extreme sleepiness, confusion, and dizziness. In addition, they can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting, and lightheadedness. Severe withdrawal symptoms can also occur when stopping opioids and discontinuing treatment should only be done when monitored by a health care professional.

In addition to non-aspirin pain relief products, other methods of pain relief include mild exercise, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, and eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as cherries and pineapple. When pain becomes severe, unmanageable or resistant to treatment, the individual might want to consult with a pain clinic professional. A pain clinic can offer alternative pain relief therapies such as epidural injections and pain relief medications delivered through patches. An experienced physician generally administers treatment and monitors the patient's progress.


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