American researchers have revealed that people who rely on over-the-counter pain medication may be ignoring important instructions about regular dosages.
According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), many people are using excessive medications to manage chronic pain. However, this can be highly risky behaviour.
According to reports, at least 43% of chronic pain sufferers will take more than one dose of pain medication daily.
“There’s the idea that generally more is better, but taking more than the recommended dose of (over-the-counter) pain medicine doesn’t result in faster relief”, explained Dr Byron Cryer from the AGA.
Pain medications have an “optimal dose”, which means they are only effective until a certain dosage. This is because pain medications target nerve endings, and block pain receptors.
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“Nerve receptors are like the number of seats on an airplane – once the seats are full, they’re full, and packing more people into the plane is only going to add risks”, Dr Cryer described.
Taking too many pain medications can lead to harmful side-effects like stomach bleeding, ulcers and liver damage. In extreme cases of course, overdosing on pain medications can result in death.
The AGA has reported that hundreds of patients are admitted each year, due to these overdose risks. Those statistics occur in America alone.
“Many patients have exceeded the recommended dose for years without experiencing harm, but it only takes one overdose for complications to occur and for that patient to end up in the hospital”, the AGA added.
“If your symptoms come on within an hour of a dose of these medications, there’s a good possibility that they’re related”, Dr Cryer said.
If you live with chronic pain and aren’t getting physical relief, the best way forward is to speak with your doctor. Never mix medications, and do not use more than the recommended dose.
Do you live with chronic pain? How do you manage your symptoms?