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Painkillers that don’t require a prescription

According to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, pain is an unpleasant sensation or feeling that may be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and sharp or dull.

Pain occurs when nerves carry a message to the brain, telling it a part of the body is damaged or stressed.

Pain can be tricky to manage but can be reduced with the use of painkillers.

While stronger painkillers, for example codeine, require a prescription from your doctor, some can be bought over-the-counter at your local pharmacy, or even at your local supermarket.


According to the experts at House Call Doctor, paracetamol, often sold as ‘Panadol’, works by reducing the intensity of pain signals to the brain.

It can relieve mild or moderate pain, for example headaches, muscle pain, and joint pain, and can reduce symptoms associated with fevers.

Paracetamol is suitable for all ages, has a low risk of side effects, and is available in several forms.

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen and diclofenac, and work by blocking the body’s production of prostaglandins, which can cause pain, swelling and inflammation.

Like paracetamol, these medicines can be used to relieve mild or moderate pain and reduce fever. They can also, however be used to reduce inflammation, for example arthritis.

Unlike paracetamol, anti-inflammatories can cause side effects if used in high doses or for too long. If you need to use anti-inflammatories for several consecutive days, consult with your GP.

Combination products

Some products combine paracetamol and anti-inflammatories for more comprehensive pain relief.

Paracetamol is also often combined with some cold and flu and migraine products. Other paracetamol products include caffeine, which is thought to increase its pain-relieving effects.

Always check the ingredients of combination painkillers to make sure you aren’t overdosing on any particular medicine.

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