Non-prescription medicines are intended for temporary, short-time use only. If pain is continuous, becomes worse or occurs often, consult a physician. This way, the cause of the pain can be determined and treated accordingly.
Acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen and ketoprofen are anti-inflammatory analgesics available without a prescription. Paracetamol too is effective against pain and fever, but in some cases (for example menstrual pain) it might be less effective than anti-inflammatory analgesics.
Avoid concurrent use
There are no important differences in the efficacy of or adverse reactions to prescription and non-prescription medicines. All anti-inflammatory analgesics alleviate pain and reduce fever the same amount. These medicines always affect the entire body – a medicine taken for knee pain also has an effect on headache and symptoms of the flu.
You should not use several anti-inflammatory analgesics or analgesics and anti-common-cold-medicines simultaneously. Since all anti-inflammatory analgesics have the same mechanism of action, the concurrent use of different products does not increase their efficacy, but does increase the potential for adverse reactions.
Anti-inflammatory analgesics can cause damage to the mucous membrane of the stomach and the intestines, because the medicines reduce the quantity of substances that protect these membranes. The potential for severe adverse reactions increases as the dose of anti-inflammatory analgesics increases. It is thus important not to exceed the recommended dose nor use several analgesics simultaneously.
Paracetamol is the most stomach-friendly pain reliever. Never exceed the recommended dose of paracetamol, since an overdose or prolonged use might cause severe liver damage. Always check the dose from the package leaflet and exercise extreme caution when giving paracetamol to a child.
Acetylsalicylic acid ("aspirin") is not recommended as the primary anti-fever medicine for children, since it can in rare cases cause the life-threatening Reye syndrome. Reye syndrome is a rare and serious disease that damages the brain and the liver. The suspected cause is a viral infection during which acetylsalicylic acid is used. That is why acetylsalicylic acid is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.