Painkiller overuse is an unfortunate side effect (pardon the pun) of our society’s ceaseless march in the direction of instant gratification; but while the bad boys of the painkiller world (the opiates) like Vicodin and Percocet continue to make headlines as the ‘danger pills,’ the NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (advil, motrin) slip under the radar.
In fact, most American’s use their innocuous reputation as an excuse to down them like candy without understanding the potentially fatal effects of these drugs. I am guilty of this as well. I could name at least three places that Ibuprofen is kept inside my house. I even have a travel bottle to take it with me!
An article published by PeoplesPharmacy.com asserts that over 20 million Americans take at least one over-the-counter NSAID each day. This does not include the chunk of Americans who are also taking prescription drugs. I can’t say I’m surprised; since the beginning of time, humans have always known physical pain as a very strong motivator.
The article continues to cite research suggesting that these innocuous drugs:
- Increase the chance of developing heart rhythm disturbances called atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter
- Cause heart attacks and strokes prematurely, especially in patients with high blood pressure
- Cause hypertension, especially in the elderly
Painkillers are quickly earning the last two syllables of their name.
I’m in no position to be offering anyone medical advice, but these findings will make me think twice the next time I reach for the bottle of Motrin when afflicted with a headache. I may just opt for the less agreeable alternative of “sucking it up.”