Ask Away...: Health Concerns: Hidden Horrors In OTC Medications

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Health Concerns: Hidden Horrors In OTC Medications

 
Had a long day at work and have a headache? There’s a medication for that.
 
Monthly period making you feel miserable and cramps seemingly intent on destroying your soul? There’s a medication for that.
 
Got a cold and tired of not being able to breathe through your nose? There’s a medication for that.
 
Sore muscles after a good hard workout in the gym? There’s a medication for that…
 
And so on and so forth. The use of over the counter medications is a vital facet of healthcare for most of us, not least because they are cheaper than their prescribed alternatives. We see these medications as beneficial, as good things, nice to have a stock of in case we wake up feeling rough.
 
However… the one thing we have a tendency to forget is that they are medication. They seem so familiar to us that we don’t think about their potential issues. Yet they do have them, and if you aren’t careful with how you use them, you could quickly fall foul of their side effects.
 
Ibuprofen
 
Ibuprofen is an NSAID; a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It’s on the milder end of the spectrum, which is why it can be sold over the counter. Brands like Advil and Motrin contain ibuprofen, and it can also be bought generically.
 
Ibuprofen is incredibly useful for headaches and period pains, which is why many of us have a packet of it at home. However, there is more and more evidence emerging that links ibuprofen to heart problems, including cardiac arrest. It’s been known for some time that stronger, prescription-only NSAIDs can cause have this side effect, but it now seems the milder versions can too.
 
It’s not just the heart, either. Your hearing can be endangered with excessive use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen, causing a condition called ototoxicity. This is a real concern. If you frequently have used NSAIDs in the past and have hearing problems, this should be the first thing you mention when you find an audiologist for further investigation.
 
Your stomach could also feel the fallout of long term NSAID usage. The tablets tend to be sugar-coated; a sign that they can be rough on the digestive system. You should always take NSAIDs with food to prevent pain, nausea, and damage to the stomach lining.
 
So What Can You Use Instead?
 
Try heat therapies for muscle aches and period pains. They’re not going to ‘fix’ the problem, but they can ease the discomfort considerably.
 
An alternative is paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen. Paracetamol is found in OTC medications such as Tylenol and Panadol, both of which are probably familiar to you.
 
There’s very little evidence that there is any concern to be had with long-term usage of paracetamol. It falls into a class of drugs called analgesics - so you’re avoiding the unsavory associations with NSAIDs. There have been some studies done investigating a link with liver disease, but these concluded there was no scientific link. Opting for paracetamol over ibuprofen, therefore, is probably the best thing you can do for your at-home pain management.
 











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