What are simple analgesics?

Simple or non-opioid analgesics are a diverse group of drugs that include anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) and paracetamol.
Most anti-inflammatory drugs also have the ability to relieve fever and antiplatelet (anti-clotting) properties. Paracetamol has the ability to reduce fever, but has minimal anti-inflammatory effects and no effect on blood clotting. Paracetamol is the preferred option for fever and mild-to-moderate pain as it has fewer adverse effects.

What are simple analgesics used for?

NSAIDs, including aspirin, are indicated for:

Paracetamol is indicated for:

  • Mild-to-moderate pain
  • Fever
  • Migraine and tension headache

How do the simple analgesics work?

Anti-inflammatories relieve pain and inflammation within the body by decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are normally produced in response to tissue damage, and are known to play a major role in the processes of inflammation, pain and fever.
Paracetamol also works by reducing the synthesis of prostaglandins.



  • In some asthmatics anti-inflammatory medicines can trigger an asthma attack.
  • If you suffer from asthma you should consult your doctor before taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Crohn’s disease:

  • Crohn’s disease can be exacerbated by anti-inflammatory medication.
  • If you suffer from Crohn’s disease you should consult your doctor before taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

History of peptic ulcer disease (stomach ulcers):

  • Anti-inflammatory medication can increase the risk of further ulceration or bleeding.
  • If you have a history of peptic ulcer disease you should consult your doctor before taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Heart Failure and High Blood Pressure:

  • Heart failure and high blood pressure may be exacerbated with the use of anti-inflammatories.
  • If you suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure you should consult your doctor before taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are ADEC pregnancy category C.
  • Before taking anti-inflammatory medication pregnant women, should discuss the benefits and risks with their doctor.


  • For the effects of Statins on breastfeeding, consult your healthcare professional.


  • Children under 18 years should not use aspirin as there is a risk of Reye’s syndrome.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Side effects of simple analgesics

NSAIDS: Most common side effects are mild. Listed below are the common (≥1%) and infrequent (<1%) side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS). You may not experience any side effects.


Speak to your doctor if you experience or are concerned about any of these or other side effects.
Paracetamol: Reports of side effects are rare at recommended doses. The following side effects have been reported:

Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns regarding the use of paracetamol.


  1. Australian Medicines Handbook. Non-opioid analgesics[online]AMH Pty Ltd 2007[cited Feb 8, 2008] http://www.amh.net.au
  2. MIMs Online. [online]MIMS Australia Pty Ltd 2007.[Cited Feb 8, 2008] http://www.mims/com.au

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