Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Aspirin, Acetaminophen: Risks of OTC Pain Relievers

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 12:43 AM

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Over-the-counter pain relievers are commonly used medicines that provide relief from body pain. OTC medicines can help in reducing muscle ache and treating other health problems like arthritis, gout, etc. Though these medicines are popular, there can be side effects of these medicines. Some of the medicines include ibuprofen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). People consider these medicines safe, but there are certain risks associated with them. Thus, it is important to be aware of the risks as well as the benefits of taking these medicines.
 
Types and Benefits
 
There are two types of OTC pain relievers viz. NSAIDs and acetaminophen (Tylenol). NSAIDs include different products such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Ibuprofen is sold under different names, such as Advil and Motrin. NSAIDs are also available in stronger doses. NSAID is the drug family that acts by blocking the enzymes responsible for triggering pain. Doctors often prescribe these over-the-counter medicines for treating diseases like gout. The benefits of taking NSAIDs include:
  • NSAIDs can be used to treat arthritis pain, gout, etc.
  • Patients suffering from pain and muscle cramps get relief after taking NSAID.
  • NSAIDs are helpful in reducing fever.
  • Headache and toothache are reduced on taking NSAIDs.
Side Effects of OTC Medicines
 
Over-the-counter pain relievers that contain acetaminophen can cause side effects if not used as directed. Though acetaminophen is considered safe, there is health risk associated with it. There can be mild and serious side effects after the intake of OTC pain relievers. Some common side effects that may occur are as follows:
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Heartburn
Some other side effects are not so common. These rare side effects may include the following:
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Allergic reaction
Allergic side effects include asthma, hives, wheezing, facial swelling, etc. Patients suffering from diseases like liver disease, bleeding, kidney disease, high blood pressure, etc. are at greater potential risk of side effects. Children recovering from chicken pox or flu should avoid taking aspirin. Side effects may include damage to kidneys, liver, and brain. Children 6 or older can take ibuprofen.
 
For children under the age of 2, naproxen sodium is not considered safe. Hence, to avoid side effects, it is better to talk to the doctor and consume medicines with proper dosage as prescribed. People taking blood-thinning medicines should also avoid taking OTC pain relievers like NSAIDs.

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