Over-the-counter pain relievers


Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help relieve pain or lower a fever. Over-the-counter means you can buy these medicines without a prescription.

The most common types of OTC pain medicines are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


Pain medicines are also called analgesics. Each kind of pain medicine has benefits and risks. Some types of pain respond better to one kind of medicine than to another kind. What takes away your pain might not work for someone else.

Taking pain medicines before exercising is OK. But do not overdo the exercise just because you have taken the medicine.

Read labels to learn how much medicine you can give your child at one time and during the whole day. This is known as the dosage. Talk to your pharmacist or your child’s health care provider if you are not sure about the correct amount. Do not give children medicine that is meant for adults.

Other tips for taking pain medicines:


Acetaminophen is known as a non-aspirin pain reliever. It is NOT an NSAID, which is described below.




Talk to your provider or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter NSAID if you:

Review Date: 12/10/2016
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.