Doctors Warn Consumers About OTC Painkillers
Over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Aspirin are often thought of as harmless, with some people popping one or two tablets per day to keep their pain at a minimum. However, OTC painkillers are not safe to take every day and can cause serious damage to the liver or kidneys. Each painkiller has slightly different harmful effects on the body if taken too frequently, but what doctors stress consumers to remember is that each of these drugs typically started out as prescription only and are now sold over the counter at lower doses. This means that these painkillers are powerful, even if they are now sold without someone having to see a doctor first.
The Top Five Harmful Effects of OTC Painkillers
Below are the top five and most common harmful effects of taking OTC painkillers on a regular basis.
- Stomach ulcers: NSAIDs like Ibprofuen and Aspirin are tough on the stomach lining. They can cause ulcers and inflammation, which can lead to “leaky gut” syndrome, where nutrients from food are not digested very well by the body. This can then lead to increased pain and food sensitivities and allergies. NSAIDs also block important bacteria in your stomach that protects the immune system. As a result, you could get sick more frequently or develop other chronic ailments.
- Liver damage: Acetaminophen is difficult to process in the body, and if you’ve got other substances in there like alcohol, you’re asking your liver to do double duty. Taking too many painkillers with caffeine (typically Acetaminophen) can also stress your liver and lead to sleep disturbances.
- Kidney damage: NSAIDs are designed to “silence” particular hormones in the body called Prostaglandins. Prostaglandins can produce a pain or inflammatory response to infection or injury in the body. Sometimes inflammation is critical for bodily repair, so subduing it with NSAIDs is not always the best idea. Furthermore, your kidneys are a major production site for Prostaglandins, and these hormones help the kidneys to do their job of removing proteins and waste from the blood. Interfering with this process can lead to kidney damage.
- Heart disease: NSAIDs also block an enzyme in the body called COX-2, which works with the Prostaglandin to protect your arteries. When both are chronically silenced through daily use of NSAIDs, your risk of heart disease increases.
- Hypersensitivity: Like any other drug, chronic overuse of OTC painkillers can end up having a rebound effect whereby you become more sensitive to pain and must take more painkillers to subdue it. Taking a painkiller less than once a week is okay, but if you have a condition that requires more than that to manage the pain, you should seek medical attention.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.