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Types of medications (depending on their use and side effects)

Types of medications (depending on their use and side effects)

July 18, 2024

Medicine is one of the sciences that has had the greatest impact on humanity. Thanks to her, the average life expectancy of men and women has lengthened. The ability to study and understand many of the disorders, infections and diseases that have affected us throughout history has made it possible to find ways to achieve better health. Among them is the use of medications .

Drugs are a chemical compound that is formed by one or several active ingredients (that perform the action inside the organism) and excipients (elements that are there to facilitate the administration of the active principle). Today, there is an extensive catalog of different types of medicines, an entire industry is behind them. And its usefulness has become very common, which has forced campaigns for the rational use of drugs.


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Types of medicines according to their use

There are several criteria for classifying drugs, such as the ATC code (Anatomical, Therapeutic, Chemical) used by WHO or other simpler ones, such as those guided by their pharmaceutical form (solid, liquid ...), according to the way of administration (oral, rectal, ...) or as directed. The latter may be the simplest to start differentiating types of medications, because it focuses on its use without going into many more details.

Even so, the list of medications is the most extensive, so the best option is to focus on the most commonly used drugs to simplify the classification.


1. Analgesics

In this group of types of medicines are all drugs that are intended to relieve physical pain , either head, joints or anyone. Its catalog can be divided into two large families: opiates and non-opiates.

The former are more powerful, are not allowed in self-medication and can generate dependence (such as morphine); while the latter are the opposite, and include both Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin or paracetamol. Among the general side effects of NSAIDs are that they favor the development of ulcers, can cause kidney complications and increase blood pressure.

2. Antacids and antiulcer

Two different groups of types of medications, but share similar functions: the decrease of gastric secretions . If the acidity decreases, the appearance of ulcers is prevented. A known example is Omeprazole.


In these drugs, the most important side effects are changes in intestinal transit (diarrhea or constipation).

3. Antiallergic

In this category are grouped drugs that have the purpose of combating the negative effects of allergic reactions or hypersensitivity.

The most popular are the drugs of the antihistamine family, whose mechanism of action influences histamine, which plays an important role in allergies. Its adverse reactions are minimal, but it can cause diarrhea, drowsiness, fatigue or headaches.

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4. Antidiarrheals and laxatives

Antidiarrheals are types of medications that are meant to relieve and stop the effects of diarrhea . The most commonly used are drugs that inhibit the motility of the intestine, which favors retention to achieve greater consistency and volume in the feces. The adverse reactions of these drugs are minimal, although some have been recorded as abdominal pain or constipation.

In contrast, laxatives are prescribed for the opposite case, in other words, to solve problems of constipation due to increased bowel movement or lubrication. Its use should be moderate and as support, because a prolonged treatment causes the intestine does not work properly, decreasing its ability to absorb nutrients.

5. Antiinfectives

These types of medications are prescribed to deal with infections . Depending on the infectious agent, they are classified as antibiotics (against bacteria), antifungals (against fungi), antivirals (against viruses) and antiparasitics (against parasites).

Self-medication is not recommended, so you always need a prescription. The greatest side effect, especially in the case of antibiotics, is that they exert an artificial selection on infectious agents.

For example, in the case of bacteria, within the same type of bacteria, there may be strains that resist the effect of a particular antibiotic.When using this antibiotic abusively, all bacteria die except those that show resistance, so in the end it will cease to have an effect.

6. Anti-inflammatories

As the name itself indicates, are drugs that have the purpose of reducing the effects of inflammation . The most prescribed are those listed as NSAIDs, which in addition to reducing inflammation, have analgesic effects.

7. Antipyretics

Antipyretic drugs are a type of drugs that have the ability to reduce fever . Among the best known are aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol, which also have other functions.

In general, as NSAIDs are the first two, can cause problems in the digestive system, unlike paracetamol.

8. Antitussives and mucolytics

They are drugs that are prescribed to try to reduce non-productive cough , that is, it does not release mucus. Great care must be taken with its dose, since some of them, such as codeine, cause addiction.

As for mucolytics, they are drugs that are recommended when mucus hinders correct breathing Its side effects are minor, such as headaches or allergic reactions.


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