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Side Effects Of Painkillers: Is Popping Pills For Pain Healthy? How Does It Affect Health In The Long Run?

At least once in our lives, that is, to say the least, we have all experienced some form of physical pain. If a person does not experience pain, this may indicate the presence of certain nerve-related disorders.

So, pain is a very common symptom of diseases and injuries and is experienced by people, regardless of their age and gender.

It is possible for certain types of pain to be mild and temporary, whereas other types of pain can be extremely painful and last for a long period.

Pain from a broken bone or ligament tear, for example, could be very intense and long-lasting, while migraines and menstrual cramps may go away within a day, although they are incredibly painful. So, with certain types of pain, especially those that are too intense and long-lasting, people tend to turn to painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications, which may temporarily alleviate their discomfort.

The danger of painkillers, however, is that they are extremely potent medications that may adversely affect your health over the long term.


What Are The Side Effects Of Painkillers?

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are those that are available without a prescription. Most painkillers are available as OTC medications. Painkillers also referred to as analgesics, relieve pain and inflammation. To determine the cause of the pain, you will need to see a physician to rule out serious underlying diseases. Painkillers are often taken in response to an injury, fatigue, or some other minor cause of discomfort. They should, however, be used carefully [1].

It is imperative to avoid taking painkillers for everyday pain, as they have proven to be very harmful to health [2]. Ibuprofen has been linked to the death of 1000 people in a year, according to studies conducted on this topic [3].

If you have ever wondered whether painkillers can be taken daily or if they are safe, then we would like to let you know that they do come with some side effects. Even though painkillers are widely prescribed by doctors, they are not without risk. So, what happens when you take painkillers regularly?

Note: Each medicine has certain side effects that may affect your health. Doctors, however, know the dosage that is required for you when they prescribe it.


Long-Term Side Effects Of Regular Painkiller Use

1. Liver Damage

There is a risk of liver damage associated with pain relievers, particularly paracetamol. Peroxides formed by the metabolism of paracetamol in the body can be toxic to the liver. Paracetamol should be taken in moderation. An intake of 8 tablets (500 mg) per day may result in serious liver damage. It is also possible to develop liver damage at lower doses in those who drink alcohol regularly or who already have a liver disease condition [4].

2. Stomach Pain And Ulcers

Painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen cause irritation and damage to the stomach lining. This may result in ulcers and bleeding from pre-existing ulcers [5].

3. Aggravates Depression

Painkillers decrease the effectiveness of drugs used to treat depression. Those who suffer from depression and take antidepressants should avoid frequent use of painkillers (NSAIDs) [6].

4. Kidney Failure

People with diabetes and high blood pressure may experience kidney damage and kidney failure after taking painkillers or analgesics, such as ibuprofen and naproxen [7]. Those who have already been diagnosed with kidney disease are also at high risk.

5. Miscarriage

Pregnant women who use painkillers (such as NSAIDs) during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage. A study has found that painkillers interfere with the hormones that stimulate labour during pregnancy [8]. Consult your doctor before taking any pain medication if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are already pregnant.


6. Bleeding

Painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen thin the blood. This effect of aspirin is beneficial to individuals with clotting problems and heart conditions. However, those taking blood-thinning medication, including coumadin, etc., should avoid taking all painkillers (NSAIDs) as they can cause over-thinning of the blood and excessive bleeding risks [9].

7. Gastric Irritation

Gastric irritation is one of the most common side effects of painkillers, especially when taken on an empty stomach. This can result in vomiting due to hyperacidity. If you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, you should take painkillers with caution [10].

8. Addiction

Studies indicate that opioid-based painkillers may be addictive [11]. Consequently, repeated use without a prescription can harm your personal as well as professional life. Discuss your options with your physician.

9. Cardiovascular Health Issues

Studies have demonstrated that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increases the risk of heart attacks after just a few weeks of use [12]. People who use these drugs have a 20 to 50 per cent greater risk of suffering a heart attack than people who do not use these drugs.


Expert Tips On Painkiller Use

  1. Taking painkillers is only a temporary solution, as they reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief. Therefore, you must undergo treatment to cure your pain-producing ailment permanently [13].
  2. The use of painkillers regularly is not recommended, especially if you or an individual in your family has a history of substance abuse problems, as there is a greater risk of developing a dependency on them.
  3. Constipation is a side effect that many people do not associate with painkillers. The dehydrating effect of painkillers may result in constipation [14].
  4. Taking painkillers past their expiration date is dangerous, even if they have crossed a couple of days past that date. Painkillers contain powerful chemicals that may turn lethal after the expiration date.
  5. You must monitor the dosage of painkillers you are taking, as they are harmful to your health (when taken incorrectly), and even a slight overdose can be fatal.
  6. Painkillers and alcohol should never be mixed. It is important that you refrain from drinking alcohol when taking painkillers, as alcohol can worsen the side effects of painkillers and may also affect your central nervous system [15].

On A Final Note…

Painkillers are well-known to cause many health-related complications, including liver and kidney diseases. Each medicine has its own set of adverse effects. Nonetheless, these side effects can be overlooked when considering the severity of the illness. Medicines should only be consumed when necessary and under the supervision of a physician.

Warning: DO NOT Self-Medicate.

Story first published: Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 15:00 [IST]
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