Dangers of OTC Drugs: Here’s What No One Talks About

Oral pain medications are not always the best solutions for pain management

Men’s Health reports that a survey from the US Pain Foundation that more than 90 percent of Americans use over-the-counter (OTC) oral medications to manage pain. The problem with and the danger from these pain relievers is that they’re so convenient that we tend to reach for them for any kind of pain instead of reserving them for situations where they’ll do the most good.

Pain management – especially pain caused by sore muscles or joints associated with physical activity – may be accomplished more efficiently by sidestepping common OTC oral medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. While these oral pain relievers are generally considered to be safe, it can be easy to make mistakes with them. Here are things to watch out for.

Drug interactions

It’s extremely important to consider any other medicines, herbal remedies, or vitamin supplements you’re also taking before you turn to an OTC oral medication for pain relief. Some can reduce pain-relieving efficiency, while others can amplify it or even result in serious side effects.

Aspirin, for example, can impact the action of certain diabetes drugs. WebMD reports that taking ibuprofen or naproxen and certain antidepressants can expose you to a higher risk of brain hemorrhage. The combination may also reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants that are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

This comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) carry a raised risk of stroke or heart attack. A study published in JAMA reports that regular use of aspirin increases the risk of serious internal bleeding by as much as 55 percent. Kristen A. Binaso, a spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association, tells WebMD she recommends showing a list of everything you’re talking to a pharmacist to make sure that there’ll be no drug interactions if you decide to take an OTC oral medication for pain relief.

The Kaiser Permanente Organization offers these cautions, as well:

Alcoholic beverages and NSAIDs can be a deadly combination. It can cause an increased risk of liver and kidney damage, as well as ulcers and stomach bleeding.

  • NSAIDs, as well as aspirin, can aggravate ulcers and increase the risk of bleeding.
  • While it seems like a no-brainer to reach for an OTC oral pain reliever for a headache, excessive use for this purpose can actually cause

Will it really help?

Medical professionals often raise the concern that the public doesn’t understand that generally, OTC oral pain relievers will help to reduce only about 50 percent to 60 percent of the pain. Dr. Ron Lechnyr, writing for the Practical Pain Management website, advises, “You have to employ other active self-care techniques to manage the pain over time.”

Kathryn L. Han, a pharmacist associated with the American Pain Foundation Action Network, agrees. She recently told the Everyday Health website, “Many times, non-drug pain-relieving methods are just as important as drug treatment in pain management.”

Topical pain relief in the form of creams, rubs, or roll-ons, are a popular alternative to OTC oral medications. They can be applied directly to muscle pain or sore joints, without the concern of drug interactions or stomach upset. Pain relief begins quickly – much sooner than the results from oral medications. Topical pain relievers can also be used with more frequency, so there’s little or no concern about over-application.

Some of the most effective topical pain relievers use natural active ingredients such as menthol or camphor. They offer relief differently – by acting as counterirritants. They prompt your nervous system to report their sensations rather than muscle or joint pain. The result is pain management without the possible health impacts of OTC oral pain medication.

The direct application of a topical pain reliever also allows you to apply only as much as you need to get relief. It’s a smarter choice – especially for dealing with specific pain in muscle groups or joints. Questions or concerns? Please get in touch. You can send an email to support@coppergel.com or just fill out our online contact form