Some people may think that over the counter or OTC painkillers are safe to take all the time. Painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen are quite common and available for purchase without any prescription. But that does not necessarily mean that they are safe. These drugs were once prescription drugs. The reason why they become available over the counter is because they are now made available in lower doses to disregard the need for a prescription. But this does not mean that you can take them daily to solve your pain problems. Here are some of the potential problems that OTC painkillers can cause if you take them daily to solve all your daily aches and pains.
Painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID’s work by inhibiting the function of prostaglandin, a type of hormone that can produce pain and inflammation signals in the body. Taking NSAID’s like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) may be safe for the occasional pain and body aches. But regular intake can affect other prostaglandin functions in the body. NSAID’s can also block a type of enzyme called COX-2, which works with the hormone prostaglandin in protecting arteries. Since their functions are compromised by the constant intake of OTC NSAID’s, they can put people at higher risk of developing heart disease.
The kidneys are one of the major production sites of prostaglandin in the body. The hormone also works to help the kidneys in removing proteins and waste from the blood. Over the counter NSAID’s can interfere with this function. It can lead to kidney damage as well as a gradual buildup of waste products in the bloodstream.
Another type of OTC painkiller like acetaminophen (Tylenol) works by interfering with the way the brain receives pain messages. A buildup of acetaminophen in the body can cause liver damage. This buildup can occur with regular intake of acetaminophen. It can be aggravated by drinking alcohol, which can affect how the body breaks down the drug.
Taking OTC NSAID’s can also have an effect on your stomach. Ibuprofen and aspirin can create inflammation in the gut lining which can lead to ulcers. The damage can affect the way the gut can absorb nutrients as well as certain proteins and allergens. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and worsening allergic reactions. Furthermore, NSAID’s can affect the gut bacteria population in your stomach, which controls the immune system. This can make people get sick more often.