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WHY DO PAINKILLERS WORK FOR SOME AND NOT OTHERS

Updated on June 1, 2013

IT SEEMS IT IS ALL DOWN TO THE GENES.

Having written a previous Hub on whether painkillers can actually do more harm to the user than the condition they are taking them for, I was fascinated to read recently that the wide discrepancy from person to person in the effectiveness of common painkillers has been carefully studied and that according to Professor Jayne Lawrence , Professor of Biochemical Pharmaceutics at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society that it all comes down to our differing genes. According to the Prof, our genes affect the way our bodies break down and carry the drug taken round the body and that affects if they act as we would wish them to. A case, of comparisons of drug effectiveness variations was undertaken by one Lucy Elkins who did a pretty comprehensive search into painkillers and variations of their effectiveness from person to person. As a result of this, reasons for variations in effectiveness and potential alternatives if they are not working was arrived at. The analysis dealt with the following major conditions and the common painkillers used to alleviate their symptoms.

1. General Painkillers.

2.Migraines.

3. High Blood Pressure.

4. Antidepressants.

5. Allergies.

CAUSES AND EFFECTS PLUS ALTERNATIVES.

1. General Painkillers.

In this sphere, CODEINE, is probably the most common drug used. The use is to block signals from nerves to brain and thus alleviate the pain. It is considered effective for up to 85% of users However, 15% have a genetic variation to an enzyme {cytochrome P450 2C9}. those with the variation do not have this enzyme and so do not break down the codeine into morphine which is the key to pain relief from the drug.Result is no pain relief.

The alternative is to seek out the effectiveness felt from other common drugs like Ibrufen and Paracetamol. If this also brings no relief then morphine direct may be prescribed as the sole way to relieve the pains..

2. MIGRAINES.

Migraines are common and also very painfull and debilitating to sufferers. Many old fashioned treatments mostly utilised lying down in a darkened room till the symptoms passed. More modern treatment involved TRIPTAN drug use which was found specially effective at the start of migraine. These drugs are available in low doses over the counter, but stronger doses are prescription only.They lower the number of pain signals from the Trigeminal nerve,one of the major nerves in the head by raising the normal level of Serotonin. However, there are now 7 different types of Tripatan tablets as well as nasal sprays and injections. The GP is probably the best placed to advise the sufferer but between 30% and 40% of sufferers find they bring little or no relief.

Alternatives include combining treatments with Ibrufen alongside Triptan. Significantly, drugs that empty the stomach, such as Domperidone, can be used to allow the active painkillers a speedy absorption, important in giving pain relief. Quite clearly, it is not wise for a sufferer to experiment on combination treatments unless under the planned supervision of a GP.

3. HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.

Most of us are only too aware that High Blood Pressure needs carefull attention. It can lead to strokes and heart attacks and as such, needs regularl monitoring and treatment to lower the levels safely. Many pills are available, but the most sensible advice is to put yourself under the supervision of the GP and with his or her advice regularly monitor pressure levels and seek altenatives if the levels remain high.

Lifestyle as well as pills is a vital factor here. Overweight and obese people are most likely sufferers as a hormone called Renin, constricts the blood vessels.Older people and those from African countries are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than others and most likely to require alternative help to block calcium action, relax the blood vessels and thus lower the pressure.Also, to reduce fluid in the bloodstream, Diuretics may be prescribed. High Blood Pressure is a silent but serious condition and expert medical help is needed.

4. ANTIDEPRESSANTS.

MODERN LIFE HAS SEEN EVER MORE PEOPLE COMPLAINING THAT THEY ARE "DEPRESSED ". IN FACT MOST ARE NOT DEPRESSED JUST "FED UP" BUT FOR THOSE WHO ARE ACTUALLY DEPRESSED CORRECT TREATMENT IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL.

It is a fact that 47 million prescriptions for painkilling drugs of one type or another are dispensed annually from the NHS. 55 million statins beats this huge figure and together they say much about our present lifestyles in the modern age. Antidepressants, or so called happy pills are designed to increase the levels of chemicals in our brains that make us feel good about ourselves and those around us. Trouble is 50% find they do not work for them.. In fact research study involving the use of a simple sugar pill against others given antidepressant tablets found very little difference between them in affecting the patient condition.

Medical opinion now is moving towards more psycholgical and active treatment. Psychiatrists seek to get patients to look at the world in a different way and to keep active and with plenty of social interaction. Mensa in Corpore In Corpore Sano, as we learned in Latin lessons at school applies very much to life today. Good sensible excercise that keeps the body sound has similar beneficial effects on the mind and lessens reliance on those pills. Simplyfeeling and being lonely has been diagnosed as a key element in depression.

ALLERGIES.

WE ALL KNOW ANTIHISTAMINES AS THE FIRST STAGE IN ALLERGY TREATMENT. I HAVE SOME IN MY BEDSIDE DRAWER RIGHT NOW !

The wretched Hystamines make me itch but my tablets have little positive effect.

I am advised that Steroid spays may work better. Like 33% of people on antihystamines ,for me, the active ingeredient, Montelukast seems not to do the job required and this is thought to be because of a genetic reason. It appears that I may have to have injections of allergen in very small doses in the hope and expectation that, in time, I will build up resistance and body tolerance to it.

Painkilling tablets, pills and drugs are interwoven into our modern lives and will continue to be so and benefitting many with their effects. However, they are not for everyone in every case and so the search goes on to find alternatives where currently they fail significant numbers of those who take them both in hope and expectation.

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