Good Morning You Pains! Just kidding of course!!
Today, I am coming to you “live” from Terranea as Tracy, Anthony, Shanna, Wilmo, my niece or nephew to be named later (March 1 to be exact) and I continue to celebrate my Mom’s 75 birthday!
As we get older our body suffers more frequently from aches and pains than when we were younger and better able to withstand the rigours of a tough workout (weights or cardio), an afternoon gardening or simply working at a desk.
And with the rising costs of health care and the lack of “free time” available to schedule an appointment with a doctor, many people in the United States have turned to self-medicating. Now, let me make a distinction, for the purposes of this installment, I am solely referring to the use/abuse of over-the-counter pain pills and not the many, many, many other drugs that can be and are used to combat pain.
Why? Because, I believe that while many turn to prescription drugs for relief (whether the prescription is valid or not), there is an awareness among most that even the ever so occasional “hit” of “mother’s little helper” is not totally Kosher. And, believe it or not, I am not here to preach on the morals of “misusing” prescribed medications.
I am concerned about however, is the unawareness of the adverse side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These medications are a class of pain relievers that come in both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) strength.
The most common are:
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- COX-2 inhibitors (Celebrex)
- Aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin, and St. Joseph)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Ordus KT)
While the formulas are different for each, all of the above basically work by blocking the effects of chemicals in the body that cause pain or reduce swelling (which itself may be the cause of pain) of a specific area of the body.
So, what’s the problem with combating pain with a drug, especially if the drug is “taken legally”? Honestly, there can be many. First and foremost, NSAIDs, as with any other systemic drug, since it travels through the blood steam and all of the major organs of the body, they affect the entire body; not only the part that hurts.
The dangers range for the benign (allergic skin reactions) to the more serious like the development of high blood pressure and kidney damage in some people. Furthermore, if consistently ingested consistently for a month or two, an increased chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease and fungus infections may result from the continued dryness of the mouth that often accompany the extended use of these medications.
More common side effects include damage to the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. And, according the Dr. Byron Cryer, a gastroenterologist and a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association, more than half of all bleeding ulcers are a result of patients ingesting NSAIDs.
And while you may know that C0x-2 inhibitors (Celebrex, Vioxx and Bextra) were developed to combat that problem, they themselves have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke (which have also been seen in long-term use of OTC NSAIDs). The result? Bextra and Vioxx are no longer available. And, even though Celebrex still is, it carries a strong FDA warning about its risks.
As a result, except for aspirin, all OTC NSAIDs must be labeled with a warning about the risks of heart attack, strong and any other side effects know to the manufacturer.
Obviously, I am not here to tell you what to take if you are experiencing pain. For that, please consult your doctor. I just want to provide you with some information on some of the medications you may not think twice about taking because they are so readily available over-the-counter.
And, what has happened on this day, February 17 in history? In 1969 Golda Meir sworn in as Israel’s first female prime minister. Mazel Tov!