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Pain relief – tablets, caplets, capsules, solubles, effervescents and powder

Pain relief – tablets, caplets, capsules, solubles, effervescents and powder

Most pains and aches we experience are harmless and simply part of everyday life. Headaches, muscle pain and discomfort relating to inflammation are often easy to manage and self-medicate with over-the-counter pain relief.

See here for specifics on Children's pain

Pain is usually divided into two categories – acute and chronic. Acute pain occurs suddenly and tends to resolve within a day or two. Chronic pain, meanwhile, is ongoing. Some guidelines consider pain to be chronic when it lasts beyond three months.

Pain can, however, become more than just a feeling of discomfort. Ultimately, it can begin affecting the way you feel overall, leading to bigger issues, such as mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Therefore, while most pains can be treated safely at home, if the pain lasts for more than three days, always ensure you see your GP.

Among the most common pain relief solutions are paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These work well for pains related to inflammation, such as back pain or headaches. If the pain is caused by sensitive or damaged nerves – like in the case with shingles or sciatica – the pain is usually treated with medication that is able to change the way the central nervous system works.



Paracetamol is used to treat headaches and most non-nerve pains. Current guidelines state that one or two 500mg tablets, up to four times a day, is a safe dose for adults. Never, however, take more than eight tablets in any 24-hour period, as overdosing on paracetamol can cause serious side effects – including liver damage. Also, the dosage may differ for those with a body-weight under 50kg, so always check with your GP.

Paracetamol comes in many forms, but the most popular products are tablets, caplets, capsules, solubles and effervescents. There is a wide range to pick and some manufacturers provide a selection of options – such as Galpharm or Bells, which provides 500mg doses in tablets, caplets and capsules. Galpharm also offers paracetamol-based Migraine Relief Capsules.

Other brands that offer solid form paracetamol include Bells Caplets and Panadol.

What Are Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)?

There is evidence that NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen, seem to work better if the pain has an inflammatory cause, such as arthritis or an injury.

Avoid using NSAIDs for long periods, however, unless you have specifically discussed their use with your doctor. Also, pregnant women should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends and prescribes it. Paracetamol is the recommended alternative in pregnancy.

As with paracetamol, ibuprofen is available in a number of forms. Galpharm and Bells provide 200mg ibuprofen doses as tablets, caplets and as liquid gel capsules. There are also Galpharm Long Lasting 200mg capsules, which are available in packets of eight.
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