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(ăn'əljē`zĭk), any of a diverse group of drugs used to relieve pain. Analgesic drugs include the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsnonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug,
a drug that suppresses inflammation in a manner similar to steroids, but without the side effects of steroids; commonly referred to by the acronym NSAID .
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 (NSAIDs) such as the salicylatessalicylate
, any of a group of analgesics, or painkilling drugs, that are derivatives of salicylic acid. The best known is acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. Now often made synthetically, they were originally derived from salicin,
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, acetaminophenacetaminophen
, an analgesic and fever-reducing medicine. It is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol and Midol. Introduced in the early 1900s, acetaminophen is a coal tar derivative that acts by interfering with the synthesis of
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, narcoticnarcotic,
any of a number of substances that have a depressant effect on the nervous system. The chief narcotic drugs are opium, its constituents morphine and codeine, and the morphine derivative heroin.

See also drug addiction and drug abuse.
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 drugs such as morphinemorphine,
principal derivative of opium, which is the juice in the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. It was first isolated from opium in 1803 by the German pharmacist F. W. A. Sertürner, who named it after Morpheus, the god of dreams.
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, and synthetic drugs with morphinelike action such as meperidine (Demerol) and propoxyphene (Darvon). Aspirinaspirin,
acetyl derivative of salicylic acid (see salicylate) that is used to lower fever, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and thin the blood. Common conditions treated with aspirin include headache, muscle and joint pain, and the inflammation caused by rheumatic fever and
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 and other NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofenibuprofen
, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that reduces pain, fever, and inflammation. Along with naproxen and ketoprofen, ibuprofen belongs to the propionic acid class of NSAIDs. It was first made available in 1967.
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 and naproxennaproxen
and naproxen sodium,
potent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) used to alleviate the minor pain of arthritis, menstruation, headaches, and the like, and to reduce fever.
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) reduce fever and inflammation as well as relieve pain. Narcotic analgesics and the morphinelike synthetic drugs depress the central nervous system and alter the perception of pain. They are used to alleviate pain not relieved by the NSAIDs. NSAIDs and other analgesics are also used in combination, as in Tylenol with codeine and Darvocet (Darvon and acetaminophen). Recently, patient-controlled analgesic techniques have been introduced, in which patients have the option of injecting small quantities of narcotic type analgesics to control their own pain. Microprocessor-controlled injections may be made through intravenous catheters, or through a catheter into the epidural (covering of the spinal cord) area. In addition to analgesic drugs, various techniques, such as acupunctureacupuncture
, technique of traditional Chinese medicine, in which a number of very fine metal needles are inserted into the skin at specially designated points. For thousands of years acupuncture has been used, along with herbal medicine, for pain relief and treatment of various
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, hypnosis (see hypnotismhypnotism
[Gr.,=putting to sleep], to induce an altered state of consciousness characterized by deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility. The term was originally coined by James Braid in 1842 to describe a phenomenon previously known as animal magnetism or mesmerism (see
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), and biofeedbackbiofeedback,
method for learning to increase one's ability to control biological responses, such as blood pressure, muscle tension, and heart rate. Sophisticated instruments are often used to measure physiological responses and make them apparent to the patient, who then tries
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, are used to alleviate pain.



a medicinal substance that relieves pain. Analgesics are a structurally varied group of medicines. Narcotic analgesics (seeNARCOTIC) are distinguished from nonnarcotic analgesics. The latter group comprises derivatives of salicylic acid, pyrazolone, aniline, and indole; in addition to being analgesics, these derivatives are antipyretics and anti-inflammatories. Amidopyrine, analgin, butadion, phenacetin, acetyl-salicylic acid, and other similar preparations are used for musculoarticulatory pains, neuralgias, headaches, and toothaches, but they are only mildly effective against acute pain caused by traumas or spasms in the smooth musculature.

Analgesics alter the body’s sensitivity to pain by predominantly affecting brain centers and/or the pituitary-adrenal system. Nonnarcotic analgesics, in contrast to narcotic analgesics, anesthetizing remedies, and anesthetics (seeANESTHETIC), do not influence any senses other than touch and do not affect mental functioning or the coughing and respiratory centers. Furthermore, nonnarcotic anesthetics are not somnifacient or addictive. (SeeANTIPYRETICS.)


Zakusov, V. V. Farmakologiia nervnoi sistemy. Moscow, 1953.
Zakusov, V. V. Farmakologiia. Moscow, 1966.
Mashkovskii, M. D. Lekarstvennye sredstva, part 1. Moscow, 1972.


Any drug, such as salicylates, morphine, or opiates, used primarily for the relief of pain.


1. of or causing analgesia
2. a substance that produces analgesia