IF you’ve ever had a headache or some form of pain, chances are you’ve sought a remedy.
Common painkillers such as paracetamol can work wonders for a variety of ailments.
Most people take a few pills occasionally to treat inflammatory pain.
But those who find themselves using them daily, or more than intended use, could be putting themselves in real danger.
Various studies have suggested that taking these pills could cause you serious health problems.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info, has previously said the risks associated with ibuprofen are “very well documented”.
“For most people, taking the standard short-term dose is associated with a low risk of side effects,” she told The Sun.
“Where we have problems is when someone takes a high dose, or long-term [weeks or months]but especially the two together.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin have already been associated with a 20% higher risk of developing tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a medical term to describe the perception of noise in one ear, both ears, or in the head, when there is no corresponding external sound.
It is often described as a “ringing in the ears”, but the exact sound heard can vary from person to person.
A study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA found that frequent use may increase the risk of contracting the disease.
Dr Sharon Curhan said: “Even though these pain relievers are widely available without a prescription, they are still drugs and there are potential side effects.
“They clearly have benefits with short-term use.
“However, frequent use over long periods may increase the risk of tinnitus and may lead to other adverse health effects.
“It is important to take these drugs mindfully and to limit their use as much as possible.”
A series of studies by gurus at Ohio State University found that taking acetaminophen may cause people to take more risks than they usually would.
More than 100 people received the suggested dose for a headache, with some given a placebo drug.
Everyone was then asked to rate different events according to their degree of risk.
Study co-author Baldwin Way explained: “Acetaminophen seems to cause people to experience fewer negative emotions when considering risky activities – they just don’t feel as scared. .”
Experts found that those who took the pills considered things like bungee jumping or speaking their minds at work to be less risky than those who took the placebo pill.
3. Back pain
Most people with back pain will take a pill to relieve symptoms.
But previous studies have shown that some medications can actually make the pain worse.
Pills like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen were all tested in a study at McGill University in Canada.
The results showed that the anti-inflammatory pills provided only limited short-term pain relief.
Doctors have also said that these pills can increase the risk of gastrointestinal side effects by 2.5 times.
At the same time, they found that the pills can also increase the risk of heartburn and stomach irritation.
4. Heart problems
If you regularly consume painkillers, experts say you could put yourself at increased risk of heart problems such as heart attacks – which are a medical emergency.
Aspirin has been associated with a 26% increase in heart problems in people with at least one predisposing factor.
These include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
A study published in ESC Heart Failure found that “those who took aspirin were more likely to develop the disease than those who did not use the drug.”
Study author Dr. Blerim Mujaj from the University of Freiburg, Germany, said: “Although the results require confirmation, they indicate that the potential link between aspirin and heart failure needs to be clarified. “
You should always consult your doctor or health care professional before taking pain medication.
The NHS recommends that you consult your pharmacist or doctor before taking ibuprofen if:
- You have had a perforation or bleeding in your stomach, or a stomach ulcer more than once, especially if it was caused by an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
- You have a medical condition that means you have an increased risk of bleeding.
- You have severe heart failure, kidney failure or liver failure.
- You are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant.
- You have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, mild to moderate heart failure or have ever had a stroke.
- You suffer from kidney or liver problems, asthma, hay fever or allergies, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or diabetes.
- You have chickenpox or shingles, or an infection – taking ibuprofen may increase your risk of certain infections and skin reactions.
If in doubt, always consult a pharmacist or doctor to find out if ibuprofen is right for you, and always read the package leaflet of the medicine.
If you take more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen, you should consult a pharmacist or doctor immediately.
If you have difficulty breathing or any other symptoms that concern you, call 111 as soon as possible for an assessment or go to the nearest A+E service.
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