If you’re taking painkillers right now for a recent injury or other trauma for pain relief or if you have other acute or chronic pain that you’re taking them for here are a few risks, dangers and warnings I want to pass on to you about over-the-counter and opioid or narcotic painkillers. Plus what happened to my young assistant.
1. If you’re taking high doses of painkillers and have been for some time to treat back pain, joint pain, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis or any chronic pain condition, you should be in close contact with your doctor. You need to be checked regularly for heart, stroke, kidney, liver and gastrointestinal problems. Your blood pressure should be checked often to watch for any increases in blood pressure or high blood pressure.
2. All other avenues for relieving pain should be explored that are non-drug options. There are many techniques, therapies and treatments that you can do yourself that will relieve, diminish or stop your pain. If you have severe pain these methods may still reduce the amount you’re having.
3. If you’re taking painkillers often you want to use the lowest possible effective dose to treat your pain flare-ups. Painkillers should not be used to prevent pain. I’ve seen many patients expose themselves to the risks of painkillers by taking painkillers as a preventative measure. All drugs and over-the-counter, opioid and narcotic painkillers have side effects and potential risks. Many can be life threatening. You can do a lot of damage to your stomach, liver and kidneys. The liver and kidney act as filters. They try to get rid of toxins and in the process damage to these organs can occur.
4. Certain basics for taking pain medicines or pain medications apply. If you have a liver disorder or drink alcohol you should avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol.) Acetaminophen is in many combination drugs, read the labels or ask your pharmacist.
5. If you’ve ever had gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers caused by any one of the NSAIDs then make sure to avoid them if at all possible. Especially if the damage was done in the past year. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).
6. Pain killer addiction can sneak up on you – another reason not to take them unless you absolutely have to. And a lot of people think they’re addicted to painkillers when they’re actually physically dependent on the narcotics or painkillers and not addicted. There is a simple, easy question and answer test you can take to find out if you’re physically dependent or addicted to painkillers.
7. Taking painkillers and other drugs should not be taken lightly. Many people are on transplant waiting lists for liver or kidney transplants because of the damage over-the-counter painkillers and narcotic painkillers have done. Narcotic painkillers are often combined with acetaminophen and the NSAIDs can cause more damage than the narcotic in many cases.
My former assistant who is in her twenties is on a kidney transplant waiting list. She goes in three days every week for several hours for her kidney dialysis. She spends almost half her time at the hospital. Taking Advil over a period of time gave her gastrointestinal ulcers and damaged her kidneys. There are many other cases like this. Be careful.
These are just a few of the risks, dangers and warnings that come to mind. There are many others. So be cautious if you’re taking painkillers for pain relief. Prescription and over-the-counter pain pills are not harmless. Find other non-drug options to reduce or stop your pain. Many others have found ways to do it. And remember that combined pain from two or more sources at the same time can greatly increase your pain. Reducing one can significantly lessen your total amount and give you relief. Seek non-drug options for the best pain relief.
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