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 from 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 Most Common Analgesic Side Effects?

By L. Whitaker
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.

The most common analgesic side effects can range from gastrointestinal discomfort to nausea to severe organ dysfunction, depending on the dose as well as the category of a particular analgesic drug. Typically, analgesics are classified as either narcotic medications, also known as opioids, or as non-narcotic medicines. Some drugs that do not strictly fit into these categories have pain-relieving properties. Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, fall under the classification of medications that can have analgesic-type effects. Each of these types of pain-relief medications can have specific side effects, and higher doses sometimes produce more severe side effects.

Acetaminophen, known in some areas as paracetamol, is typically available without a prescription for the relief of moderate or mild pain. Although this drug is considered safe when users follow the manufacturer's dosing instructions, serious analgesic side effects can result in the case of long-term consistent use or if an overdose occurs. Damage to the liver or kidneys is possible if an individual engages in excessive dosing or has cumulative, consistent use over a long period of time, or combines this drug with the use of alcohol. For any person who is taking acetaminophen or paracetamol for pain relief, care should be taken to avoid combining this individual medication with any other medicinal preparation that also contains the same drug as an active ingredient.

Opioid or narcotic medications, which are often used in individuals with severe or chronic pain conditions, are likely to produce analgesic side effects in many individuals, particularly at the onset of treatment. The most commonly occurring analgesic side effects associated with opioid medications are vomiting, itching, constipation, sleepiness, low blood pressure when standing up, contracted pupils, dry mouth, and retention of urine. Individuals who take narcotic drugs tend to develop a tolerance for the medication over time, resulting in high doses that would be severely damaging or fatal to a person who was not yet accustomed to these drugs. One of the possible analgesic side effects of a high dose of narcotic medication could include depression of the respiratory system. Some commonly used opioid medications include codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol.

Analgesic side effects are also possible with the use of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Some severe effects that have been associated with inappropriate use of NSAIDs include hearing loss, renal failure, ulcers, or internal bleeding. Aspirin is never appropriate for use in children under 16 years old, due to the possibility of developing a liver disorder called Reye's syndrome. Certain drugs like celecoxib that originated from NSAIDs, called COX2 inhibitors, can result in a higher risk of heart problems.

One way to avoid systemwide analgesic side effects in certain cases is to use topical medications. Injections of lidocaine or frequent applications of an analgesic gel might be available for relief of joint pain, for example. Capsaicin is one type of topical analgesic that could be used for pain relief in some individuals.

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.