Stop Popping These Seemingly "Safe" Over-The-Counter Pills
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are common pain relievers that include ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin and other similar medicines that may be sold over-the-counter or by prescription.
However, new warnings have been issued by the Food and Drug Administration. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 100,000 hospital admissions and 16,000 deaths were related to NSAIDs in 2013.
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers At A Glance
Sometimes NSAIDs are necessary because of serious problems like Rheumatoid Arthritis and life-threatening fevers, but often we turn to NSAIDs for common aches and pains that might be managed with other treatments.
Acetaminophen may be recommended as an alternative, but that has its own set of concerns including possible kidney or liver damage from taking too much over a period of time.
Aspirin has a long history of use for joint aches, headaches and fever control. Like many of today’s drugs this began as a herbal remedy in the form of Willow Bark extract.
The active ingredient in Willow Bark extract was identified in 1828 and the commercial production of aspirin began in 1874 as acetylsalicylic acid. When doctors in the hospital write an order for aspirin, they use the letters ASA which stands for that active ingredient.
COX-2 Inhibitors – A New Addition!
In more recent years there have been many new classes of NSAIDs. Some of the prescription types of NSAIDs have less stomach irritation than the ones often available in grocery stores and pharmacy aisles.
However, in the mid-2000s, two of the more potent brands in the COX-2 inhibitor category were taken off the market because they significantly increased the risk of heart attacks.
This is because there are two parts to the inflammatory pathway and the part that was blocked by COX-2 inhibitors caused the other pathway to cause constriction of blood vessels.
The other pathway of inflammation is called the LOX pathway and too much of that contributes to asthma because of smooth muscle constriction of the airways and blood vessels.
As with most things, blocking one pathway may help one condition, but it may make another pathway more active and cause problems elsewhere.
NSAIDs And Heart Attack/Stroke Risk
A recent report from Harvard, reviewed the new warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, states the following:
“Heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term use, and the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID. The risk increases with higher doses of NSAIDs taken for longer periods of time. The risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease, though even people without heart disease may be at risk.
Previous studies have suggested that naproxen may be safer than other types of NSAIDs, but the new evidence reviewed by the expert panel is not solid enough to determine that for certain.”1
NSAIDs And Hearing Loss Risk
Now, there is another concern that involves hearing loss. Approximately 20% of people who take NSAIDs report some hearing loss.
New information suggests that these common over-the-counter medicines may harm the tiny hairs inside the ears that allow us to hear. Even short term use can limit hearing to some extent.
Be More Cautious When Using NSAIDs!
All of this means that you should limit your use of NSAIDs to times when you really need them. Then try to limit the amount and also limit the number of days that you take NSAIDs for relief of symptoms.
Also, try other methods to get by with massage, heat, cold, stretching and rest to help find relief.
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