PAIN RELIEF MEDICATION: IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM? - Aussie Pharmacy

No matter what kind of pain relief it is, pain relief medication is a product common to most households. Perhaps for many, the kind that they keep in their house is largely dictated by price, accessibility, or broadness of use, but I wonder how many people actually scour ingredients lists on the backs of packaging to make informed decisions about what exactly they want in their pain relief medication. Differences between general pain relief, panamax vs Panadol for example, is a well-worn debate. Is there a difference? And if there is, are people especially concerned about what they are? 

The three different kinds of synthetic (read: pharmaceutical) pain relievers are:

Aspirin

NSAIDs

Paracetamol

 

All the major pharmaceutical companies seem to bring out pain relief medication to suit needs that are more specific by the year. Panadol Osteo, for example, marketed to anyone suffering from osteoarthritis with the promise to target the pain directly in order to relieve it. But is it any better at doing its job than a general, jack-of-all-trades Panadol? As far as their respective ingredients lists go, Panadol Osteo contains a higher dose of paracetamol than the general Panadol tablets. As paracetamol is credited also with the relief of pain associated with headaches, period pain, toothaches, post dental procedures, cold and flus and is also known to help reduce fevers, it is possible that Panadol Osteo can be more flexible than its branding suggests. 

It is possible for people to have aversions, even allergies to particular active ingredients in pain relief medication. This is a very good reason as to why people might show preference for one type of medication over another. Aspirin is an example of this. Many people can exhibit side effects such as blocked and runny noses, itchy rashes or flushing (redness of skin). In this instance, it would be safe to assume that a paracetamol-based alternative like Panadol would be a staple in these households. Allergies to paracetamol are also possible, but much more rare, and would look similar to the side effects of people who have allergies to aspirin. 

So here’s a breakdown of ingredients found in certain kinds of pain relief medication that might illicit an allergic reaction in some people:

Ibuprofen

Naproxen sodium

Paracetamol

Ibuprofen and Naroxen sodium are known as NSAIDs – that is, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – and are found in pain relief meds such as Advil and Nurofen.

Aspirin and NSAIDs are the traffic controllers of the construction site that is your bloodstream. They hold up a STOP sign that is impossible to disobey the orders of, thereby blocking the particular enzyme that would otherwise be responsible for tissue inflammation, pain and fever. While they are on the job, they also deny entry to platelets (which would cause blood clots) and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. So whilst their benefits are liberal, NSAIDs should also be consumed with caution – especially by those who are asthmatic. Extreme allergic reactions are more common in asthmatics than non, for reasons that have not yet been identified. For those who are allergic to this kind of medication, it might be worth looking into herbal alternatives, or medication that contains paracetamol over NSAIDs. Willow tree bark extract could be a fairly good natural substitute, with similar results to aspirin. The chemical in it is called salicin, which can reduce pain and fever in the body. Paracetamol works similarly in its role as traffic controller. However, where ibuprofen is metabolised in the kidney, paracetamol is metabolised in the liver. Pick your site, really. 

Natural remedies for pain relief such as willow tree bark extract are less common in households and not as widely accessible as pharmaceuticals, but most definitely a plausible alternative to medication that uses synthetic ingredients. Turmeric is another that is helpful to alleviate pain, albeit, only specific kinds. These include indigestion, psoriasis, stomach pains and ulcers. It wins points for being a kitchen staple (and extremely accessible), despite its limited pain relief uses. Cloves are another form of natural pain relief that doubles as a pantry staple. They can relieve pain linked to nausea, diarrhea, colds, indigestion and headaches. 

If pharmaceuticals are more your speed, and you are wanting to nut out the differences between the major forms of pain relief (panamax vs Panadol, for example), I can reveal whatever differences there may be between them (spoiler alert: they’re few and far between).

Some praise panamax for being one of the quicker forms of pain relief  – supposedly much quicker than Panadol. Essentially though, the differences between the two are miniscule. Panadol has a gelatin coating that panamax doesn’t. Other than making it more pleasant (and possible) to swallow, the coating gives Panadol no further advantages in terms of its efficacy. Panamax and the general Panadol each contain the exact same amount of paracetamol; 500mg per tablet. Panamax is also generally much cheaper than any similar medication with a brand name, meaning it is a more popular choice purely on this basis. 

Paracetamol is the sole active ingredient in Panadol – and not many people are allergic to it. It is easy to overlook the ingredient as the cause of allergic reactions because of this, and so diagnosis of a paracetamol allergy might be delayed consequently. Panamax has the same chief ingredient, so an allergy to one will probably mean an allergy to the other. For those who do harbour allergies, it is not so much a case of panamax vs Panadol, as it is a necessity to avoid them both.  

When NSAIDs work, they work well. Aspirin, Advil and Nurofen will always be household staples as a result. As they reduce the inflammation of the chemicals that would otherwise cause pain and inflammation, they are favourites for people who suffer arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders. However, an allergy to NSAIDs and aspirin can have severe consequences. None of them pretty, but all of them necessary to know before you consider taking NSAIDs. Cardiovascular problems, bleeding in lining of stomach, high blood pressure and heart or kidney failure are all possible outcomes of an allergy to NSAIDs.

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