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Pain, fever, inflammation: the role of prostaglandins

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Pain, fever and/or inflammation are part of a complex physiological process that develops in the body in response to some kind of aggression. This aggression can be physical, chemical, infectious or be due to disturbances in the body. This process in the body implements several phenomena at the level of vessels, cells and others. This goes hand in hand with a release of certain substances called mediators.


These mediators include, among others, prostaglandins.


Basically, prostaglandins are produced from phospholipids found in cell membranes. The type of phospholipids in these membranes determines the types of prostaglandins that are produced. Through nutrition (the types of fats one consumes) it is possible to influence the different types of prostaglandins that can be produced. (for more info's see


Prostaglandins are substances that the body needs to survive, but when the amounts of these prostaglandins are out of proportion, these same prostaglandins are responsible for pathological conditions.


Treatment of fever, pain and inflammation

Schematically, the most common painkillers can be classified into two main categories:

  • Peripheral painkillers (e.g. paracetamol; ibuprofen)

  • Central painkillers (opiates) - of the morphine type and derivatives


Peripheral painkillers work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandin, a substance involved in stimulating fever and nerve messages signaling pain

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