Exclusive: Brain and Nervous System - Pain, Painkillers & Sleeping Pills

Sunday 28 April 2019

The human brain contains more than 100 billion nerve cells (called neurons). These neurons receive electro-chemical impulses from everywhere in the body, interpret the impulses and then send the relevant signals back to various glands and muscles.

From the brain is attached the brain stem and the spinal cord, all of which make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord is cushioned by the cerebrospinal fluid in the centre of the bones of the spine.

From the Central Nervous System, the signals are transmitted to the Peripheral Nervous System, which comprise:

(a) Skin and muscle (eg. feel itchiness from mosquito bites, feel pain)
(b) Head, brain, eyes, ears, nose and tastebuds (eg. migraine)
(c) Automatic nervous system, which controls the unconscious body functions (eg. breathing, digestion, glandular activities such as insulin production, T3, T4 production).

Cause of Pain

Pain is caused when there is damage to the tissues due to injury or infection. It leads to a chemical reaction, which produces prostaglandins (which is a hormone-like substance released by damaged cells).

Prostaglandins act on the nerve endings so that the signal is passed along a series of nerve cells to the brain where the signal is interpreted as pain by the brain cells. This is a chemical reaction. The source of the pain will transmit the pain through the nerve cells (neurons), to the spinal cord, which pass the pain to the brainstem, which highlights to our conscious mind which area of the body is injured, damaged, wounded or infected.

With this knowledge, we can now understand better how painkillers work to subside the pain.

Drugs for Nervous System Disorders

Drugs commonly prescribed for nervous system disorders include:

- Analgesics (painkiller)
- Sleeping drugs for insomnia
- Anti-anxiety drugs for spleen problems
- Anti-depression drugs
- Anti-convulsant drugs for epilepsy
- Drugs for Parkinson disease
- Drugs for dementia
- Drugs for migraine
- Antiemetics drugs to prevent vomiting and nausea.

A. Analgesics

Its function is to relieve pain.
However that pain is actually not a disease, but a symptom that something is wrong with your body.
Pain is worsened by anxiety and fear. Educate yourself to take wise actions. Don't worry incessantly and trust your decision.

There are 2 types of painkillers:

(a) Opioids eg. morphine, to relieve very severe pain.

(b) Non-Opioids are used to treat moderate, acute or chronic pain.
It includes Paracetamol (eg. Panadol and Nefopam) and NSAIDs (eg. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen).
Children below the age of 16 should avoid taking aspirin as it is associated with Reye's Syndrome in children (a disorder that causes brain and liver damage).

Paracetamol only works for certain pains - it is good for aches, headache, toothache, joint pain and menstrual pain.

How do the Drugs work to subside the pain?


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