We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Types of Oral Analgesics?

By Kay Paddock
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Oral analgesics are pain relievers that are taken by mouth. Any type of pain relieving medication that is taken orally can be considered an oral analgesic. There are a few different types of oral medications used to relieve pain. Most people take them in pill form, but children and those who have difficulty swallowing pills might opt for a type of liquid painkiller or one that can be dissolved in water. Oral analgesics typically fall into two different categories: nonnarcotic medications that can be purchased over-the-counter and narcotic medications that must be prescribed by a doctor.

Nonnarcotic analgesics can usually be purchased in most stores that carry pharmacy items. These are most often taken for mild or acute pain. Headaches, minor injuries and cold symptoms are common reasons people take over-the-counter oral analgesics. Narcotic medications are typically reserved for chronic or severe pain, such as for post-surgery pain; some injuries; and ongoing, painful conditions.

Acetaminophen, which is commonly known as paracetamol outside of the United States, is one example of a nonnarcotic oral analgesic. Oral analgesics that contain acetaminophen help relieve pain and reduce fevers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are another category of nonnarcotic oral analgesics. Steroids are a class of drugs that reduce inflammation or swelling, but can cause other side-effects that might not be worth the risk in every case; NSAIDs have a similar effect without the use of steroids.

The reduction of swelling will often relieve associated pain. That helps to make NSAIDs helpful for conditions such as arthritis and mild injuries wherein swelling and pain are related. Most NSAIDs can be purchased over-the-counter, but many extra-strength versions require a prescription. Aspirin is an NSAID that is available almost everywhere; another popular NSAID is ibuprofen.

Narcotic oral analgesics require a doctor's prescription in most places. Narcotic pain relievers contain substances found in opium, a drug that is derived from poppy plants. Narcotic ingredients such as codeine or hydrocodone can sometimes cause side-effects that over-the-counter medications typically do not, such as nausea, hallucinations, or extreme drowsiness. The narcotic ingredients also raise the risk of drug dependency in those who use the medication for a long time. Sometimes narcotic ingredients are combined with nonnarcotic pain relievers to enhance the medication's effectiveness.

Another type of oral pain reliever is a topical medication used inside the mouth. This is a numbing agent that is often placed on the gums. Children who are teething or adults with toothaches might use what is called a topical oral analgesic. Most of the time when people refer to oral analgesics, however, they are referring to medications such as those listed above that are swallowed for pain relief.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.