Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Tips for taking OTC pain meds
Just because something is available over the counter doesn't always mean it's safe. Case in point: NSAIDs. Never heard of NSAIDs? Well, you have probably heard of some of the specific brands: Aleve, Motrin, Naprosyn and many others. NSAID is an acronym for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. About 14 million Americans take them on a regular basis, and get this, an astounding 60 percent experience some sort of side effect.
Many times, these side effects can be minor, but they can also be more serious. Significant gastrointestinal bleeding can result, as can problems with your kidneys or even your heart. Yep, just from taking simple over-the-counter medication. What's also problematic is that many patients never bother to mention that they are taking these medications to their doctors. And, that could result in even bigger problems.
It turns out that many of these medications can increase your likelihood of bleeding. Imagine that your doctor has scheduled you for surgery and thinks you are not taking any medications, but in fact you are on a blood-thinning medication such as aspirin or NSAIDS. You can imagine the type of complications that might arise. I have seen it firsthand.
There is no question that some people absolutely need their medications to ward off the aches and pains associated with arthritis. So, here are a couple of tips. Take the medication at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time. You could also consider a different class of medications altogether, such as Tylenol. Finally, you could take a medication to coat your stomach, if you are taking anti-inflammatories long term.
Have you ever had any trouble with NSAIDs? What did you experience and what did you do about it? What is your best advice?
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