All drugs have more than one effect beside the desired one. Non-desired effects are called side-effects and side-effects can cause unpleasant symptoms like constipation, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, rashes or more severe ones. It is always advisable to discuss side-effects with the prescriber.

Some drugs belong to more than one group, having positive effects for different conditions.

Describing drug groups rather than specific drugs is for two main reasons:

  1. At any one time, some drugs currently in use may have been found to be less effective than first hoped, or side effects may be proven to be harmful, or new, more target-specific drugs may have come on the market.
  2. Many individual drug names would fill numerous pages because for each generic drug name there can be many trade names available
  3. The generic name is the name of the active drug.The trade name is a name different Pharmaceutical Companies call the same acting drug to distinguish their product.

The difference between a generic drug and a trade name drug is the filling, the non-acting substance that holds the acting drug in tablet form, capsule or liquid.
In the example of paracetamol, there are over 15 trade name drugs containing paracetamol, plus over 10 that contain paracetamol plus some other acting drug. An example of the latter is CODALGIN which contains 500mg paracetamol and some codeine phosphate

Drug administration can occur via different routes:

  • Orally: anything by mouth
  • Parenteral: other than via the digestive tract eg subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous, intraspinal
  • Topical: applied to the skin
  • Rectal: suppositories

Some drugs are available in more than one form eg in tablet- OR liquid-form.
Some drugs are for oral OR parenteral form OR topical application.
All drugs must be taken the prescribed route because dosage, absorption and preparation differ.

If swallowing medication proves very difficult, a person can always ask the prescriber whether it is available in another form.

Drug compatibility
Some drugs, when taken together with others, may cause severe side-effects - they are incompatible. Others may increase drug effects to a dangerous level.
Some drugs, when taken together with others, may not work at all, because one renders the other ineffective.
For some drugs to be effective, certain foods may need to be avoided. This information will always be in the accompanying information sheet.
For compatibility reasons, self-medicating is unwise to dangerous.
The prescriber should always be informed when non-prescribed medications are taken. This includes herbal medicines.


ANALGESICS (Painkillers)
Mild ones
Mostly Paracetamol or Aspirin. They act mainly peripheral. Aspirin is also an anti-inflammatory and a blood-thinning agent.

Stronger or narcotic analgesics
Opiates, morphine-like drugs, the name usually ending with ‘-ine’ such as Codeine, Morphine, Nosepine. They may be combined with paracetamol as in Panadine

Very strong analgesics
Like Morphine, Pethidine. These are stronger opiate substances and may cause nausea, drowsiness and other reactions and some people are allergic to them.
All analgesics cause constipation.

Non steroidal
These are chemicals that help reduce inflammation and with that, also pain. They are generally gentle on the stomach and may be taken with other over-the-counter drugs. But all advice on the information slip needs to be followed and the treating doctor informed if prescribed or other non-prescribed medicines are also taken

Steroidal anti-inflammatories
Are strong anti-inflammatories, hormonal-based or synthetic. By prescription only. They have many adverse effects and need to be taken under strict control of the prescriber.

The cause of depression may be external or internal. ‘External’ means as a reaction to things happening in the person’s life, like prolonged emotional or physical pain, loss, or shock. ‘Internal’ causes of depression are so far not explainable, there seem to be a number of causes.
Drug dosages usually start low and are increased to the effective dosage under direction of the prescriber.
Different people may react differently to the same drug and effectiveness and unwanted side effects must be discussed with the prescriber.
Weaning off the medication should be gradual to avoid sudden relapse.

Prescribed for calming effects. Calming is also pain-reducing. Tranquilizers cause sleepiness but are not sleeping drugs as such. People on tranquilizers may not be aware of their reduced reaction time. Antidepressants and/or tranquilizers may be prescribed for depression and should always be taken in conjunction with self-help therapies and the weaning-off gradual.

Somnalents help a person go to sleep. They do not reduce pain and do not cure sleeplessness.

Anti-tumour antibiotics are specific antibiotics that bind with a person’s DNA

Anti-bacterial antibiotics do not work for viral infections. There are specific antibiotics for specific infections.
Any adverse reaction to an antibiotic must immediately be discussed with the prescriber. There are usually alternatives to a first-choice antibiotic.
Antibiotics need to be taken at the exact time advised and the exact way, else they may not be effective as they have different absorption needs, some before food is ingested, some with food, and some after food intake.
Capsules must be swallowed whole to keep a constant level of the medication in the blood.
Courses of antibiotics must be finished to eradicate the hearth of the infection. Stopping them before a course is finished may only stop the symptoms but not the source of the infection.