The ‘right’ way to take painkillers for quicker relief, according to scientists

If you’ve ever needed quick pain relief, you’ve likely downed a couple of paracetamol with some water, but research suggests doing this could make the pills less effective.

A study has found that our body position makes all the difference when taking painkillers and academics have identified the best way to swallow them – and what can slow them down.

Scientists based in the US suggest lying on your right side benefits the medication – but don’t turn the other way, or that sweet release could be delayed.

Findings, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, were determined with the help of a “StomSim” – a state-of-the art biomimetic simulator – to model how it all works together and its mechanics are “surprisingly complex”, researchers say.

Woman laying in bed with headache
Your headache may be prolonged if you take your paracetamol while lying in bed
(Image: Getty Images/Tetra Images RF)

The modelling is believed to be the first of its kind to couple gastric biomechanics with pill movement and drug dissolution to quantify an active pharmaceutical ingredient passing through the pylorus into the duodenum, the Mirror reported.

It enabled the researchers to calculate and compare the emptying rate and the release of a dissolved active pharmaceutical ingredient into the duodenum for a variety of physiological situations.

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Study co-author Professor Rajat Mittal, of Johns Hopkins University, said: “Oral administration is surprisingly complex despite being the most common choice for drug administration.

“When the pill reaches the stomach, the motion of the stomach walls and the flow of contents inside determine the rate at which it dissolves. The properties of the pill and the stomach contents also play a major role.

“However, current experimental or clinical procedures for assessing the dissolution of oral drugs are limited in their ability to study this, which makes it a challenge to understand how the dissolution is affected in different stomach disorders, such as gastroparesis, which slows down the emptying of the stomach.”

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He said the stomach’s contents and gastric fluid dynamics are among factors that play a role in a drug’s bioavailability, and stomach contractions can induce pressure and generate complex pill trajectories.

Prof Mittal said: “This results in varying rates of pill dissolution and non-uniform emptying of the drug into the duodenum and, sometimes, gastric dumping in the case of modified-release dosage. Together, these issues pose several challenges for the design of drug delivery.”

Prof Mittal added: “In this work, we demonstrate a novel computer simulation platform that offers the potential for overcoming these limitations.

“Our models can generate biorelevant data on drug dissolution that can provide useful and unique insights into the complex physiological processes behind the oral administration of pills.”

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Daily Record – Lifestyle