Health Risks Associated With Over the Counter Pain Medications

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( — November 14, 2013) Portland, OR — There are almost as many people that take these dangerous drugs on a daily basis for chronic illness, never knowing that each time they pop that pill they are risking their lives.

“But I have taken this all my life and have never had a problem.”


This is a common refrain from users of pain relieving over the counter drugs. Little do they realize that a lot of the dangerous side effects come from accumulation, not the single use that triggers the event.

Statistically people that use NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on a regular basis are more likely to have a heart attack than those that never or rarely take these medications. Taking them for as little as a two month period gives you a 1 in 1200 chance of dying from them. They cause as many deaths every year (over 16,000) as the number of people who die from AIDS. Many times they cause liver or kidney failure. Other times they increase gastrointestinal problems such as stomach ulcers or erosions.

Many people believe it is only aspirin that causes these gastrointestinal problems. Aspirin can cause them, but so can ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Aspirin can cause a disease called Reye’s syndrome. This disease devastates internal organs, particularly the brain and liver, and at least 10% of those affected will die even with early treatment. Opiate based pain killers are only available by prescription. This is not because they are that much more dangerous, but because they are addicting. Someone addicted to them need ever increasing dosages to get the same relief. That leads to over 16,000 deaths per year from overdoses, but isn’t that the same number of deaths from NSAIDS? Which then is really more dangerous?

Another dangerous prescription is the family of Cox-2 inhibitors. In fact there is only one (Celebrex) still on the market. Statistics show that taking this drug, or its cousins, triples your chances of having a heart attack. Those taking 400mg doses of Celebrex had a 250 percent greater risk of dying from that heart attack or stroke and those taking 800mg had a 340 percent higher risk.

The other prescription pain relievers are no better for you.


Men are still more likely to die from prescription painkiller overdose, but women are quickly catching up. More than 6,600 women, or 18 women every day, died from a prescription painkiller overdose in 2010. There were four times more deaths among women from prescription painkiller overdose than for cocaine and heroin deaths combined in 2010.

There are many natural substances that can be used for pain relief. Many of them are in your refrigerator or spice cabinet. Before you reach for another medication take some time and look up your options.






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