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Take Caution With Painkillers

By Paul Rothbart

Headaches, toothache, all kinds of body aches. No one is immune to a certain amount of pain. If you don't hurt once in a while, you're not really living. Fortunately, medication exists to relieve pain. The strongest require a prescription and are not available for the run of the mill aches, but there are some over the counter medicines that can do the job. But just because they don't require a script doesn't mean they can be taken with abandon. There are three basic types and they all can have potentially dangerous side effects, especially in too large doses and too frequently. People with certain conditions are more at risk. Here are the types and the risks they pose. 


Ibuprofen is one of the most popular over the counter meds. It relieves pain by reducing inflammation. It is often recommended by doctors. Most people have a bottle in their medicine cabinet. People with any kind of liver or kidney problems should take great caution before using ibuprofen as should anyone with Crohn's, or ulcerative colitis. Any kind of heart issues, lupus, and asthma can also make ibuprofen a dangerous choice. Pregnant women, anyone with an ulcer or with liver disease should absolutely not take. Those over the age 65 must also be cautious.


Naproxen is available in many different brand names. It, too, is an anti-inflammatory. Naproxen is a recommended painkiller for the relief of pain from arthritis, gout, fever, muscle pain, and toothaches. Care must be taken by anyone with ulcers, stomach bleeding, or diverticulitis. Those over 65 are especially at risk. For anyone taking any kind of blood thinners, naproxen must absolutely be avoided. It can place the user at great risk of serious bleeding. 


Acetaminophen is another very popular painkiller, especially for people whose stomachs are upset by the others. In correct dosages, it is safe, but it doesn't take much extra to become quite dangerous. The leading cause of calls to poison control centers nationwide is overdose of acetaminophen. The main danger is liver toxicity. Even taking the recommended dosage for four or more days can damage the liver. For this reason, it should never be taken with alcohol. Many people are very complacent when using acetaminophen, but the warnings on the bottle should be heeded. Death can and has resulted from its misuse.

There is no avoiding pain. It's going to happen to the best of us. How we deal with it is what counts. Before reaching for that over that counter painkiller, consider the risk. Are you in a group that should use caution and how often have you taken it? What other medications might interfere with it. Considering a non medicinal pain relief method is always a good idea. Be careful.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Waco, Tex.

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