Pain Medications Can Be Harmful

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  • 4.5 million people a year go to emergency rooms or rush to doctors because of adverse reactions to medications
  • 30 million people or more suffer the effects of combining medications. Interactions between 2 or more drugs can cause unintended side effects
  • The 4th leading cause of hospital deaths is prescription drugs. This is surpassed only by heart disease, cancer and stroke
  • A 400 percent increase in the abuse of prescription pain killers in the U.S. occured in just 10 years from 1998 to 2008
  • 75% of people over 60 take two or more prescription drugs each day…37% take five or more

Types of Pain Medication

There are two kinds of pain medications: over-the-counter and prescription. Many over-the-counter and prescription pain medications are members of a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.

Over the counter pain medications include:

  • Acetaminophen-Tylenol, aspirin
  • NSAIDs-Motrin, Aleve

Prescription pain relievers include:

  • Corticosteroids, Opioids, Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications)

Frustration and Addiction

Physicians and their patients become equally frustrated in their attempts to manage the patient’s pain, because results are so frequently poor. As pain becomes chronic the obvious solution for many is to increase the dosage of medication. However, as the dose of medication increases so do the side effects and risks, including substance abuse or even addiction. Adverse side effects may also be caused by drug interaction. Of course in most cases, patients suffer from the most common side effects of pain medication including:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Headaches
  • Joint stiffness
  • Constipation
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Stomach problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vision problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea
  • Changes in mood
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness

Liver and Kidney Damage

In some instances, patients desperate to decrease chronic pain symptoms begin to self medicate without their doctor’s knowledge or approval. Without knowing, patients put themselves at risk of not only addiction but also liver and kidney damage. Acetominophen toxicity (Tylenol) is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the US and Britain.1 Ultimately, the greatest harm in pain medication is to the sufferers themselves who then have to endure a decreased quality of life.

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