Pain killer side effect

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 23, 2018

March 06, 2020

Pain killer side effect
Pain killer side effect

What are painkiller side effects?

Painkillers or pain relievers are composed of drugs called narcotics. These are commonly prescribed in order to achieve quick relief from bodily pain. Common painkillers include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These are also very commonly available in pharmacies and do not require a prescription to be purchased. However, the long-term and frequent intake of these painkillers do not come without side effects. 

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

Common side effects associated with the use of prescription painkillers are:

The above symptoms may be noted immediately after consuming the medication. In some individuals,  as soon as the medication begins to show effect, they may experience side effects. However, these immediate side effects are more common in individuals who do not take painkillers frequently. With continuous use, these symptoms will seem less obvious but other serious symptoms may arise, such as:

  • Addiction
    The biggest risk that comes with the use of painkillers is the risk of abuse and addiction. Painkillers are commonly composed of drugs which provide immediate relief and can depress the central nervous system to a certain degree and give a euphoric experience. Individuals who frequently use painkillers may get addicted to this effect and hence, begin to abuse the medicines by taking them even when not needed.
  • Tolerance
    Frequent use of painkillers may cause one to develop a higher tolerance towards the medications, which means that they will have to take it in increasing amounts/dosage to get the same effect or for the drug to be effective in providing relief.
  • Hormonal imbalance
    Excessive use of painkillers can lead to low levels of testosterone in men and lowered oestrogen levels in women. It may also lead to other problems like hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, and reduced libido.

What are the main causes?

These medications are usually prescribed to individuals suffering from acute pain in order to get immediate relief. However, stronger doses of painkillers may be prescribed to individuals dealing with terminal illnesses, such as cancer, in order to ward off the pain. The side effects are due to the numbing effects of the medicine on the nervous system.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis is made by taking the medical history, physical examination and tests to assess blood levels of the painkiller. The doctor will generally recommend one to reduce the intake of painkillers or avoid them altogether and turn to natural remedies for fighting pain. Natural food items like turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory in nature and help in reducing pain.

Other solutions, such as yoga and meditation may also be recommended to reduce dependence on painkillers.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland, Ohio. The Down Side and Side Effects of Painkillers.
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Pain medications - narcotics.
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Pain Relievers.
  4. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Using medication: The safe use of over-the-counter painkillers. 2016 Apr 6 [Updated 2017 Aug 10].
  5. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Medicines and side effects.
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