I’m sure many of my readers like myself happily take pills if they help with the pain but of course none of them come without side effects and addiction.
Some easy mistakes you can make with your medications could actually be quite life threatening.
After reading an article about a man who died through taking too many paracetamol tablets, it made me really think about the amount of drugs I am currently taking.
Apparently he suffered from bad sciatica and was warned he was using too much paracetamol but as he thought the ones prescribed by his GP were too strong, he just carried on taking the paracetamol.
His brother said that he would have a drink every night with two paracetamol and then take another two later.
The post-mortem examination found a high level of paracetamol in the man’s blood and damage to his liver. The cause of death was liver failure due to paracetamol overdose.
Of course with paracetamol readily available from a number of shops, I’m sure a lot of people do not realise just how many they are allowed to take.
Many people take over the counter pain killers like paracetamol without even reading the dosage on the box. So instead of maybe taking one four times a day, they take double that. And at the same time they may also take the prescription drugs that they have been given by their GP.
Unless your GP has approved the over the counter pain killers then do not take them until you have either read all the instructions on the back or spoken to your GP.
BUPA wrote in their article about over the counter painkillers that if you have mild-to-moderate pain, start by taking a non-opiate painkiller (such as paracetamol) or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (such as ibuprofen). Take it regularly and up to the largest recommended amount. If that doesn’t work and you still have pain, try a weak opiate medicine such as codeine. If that doesn’t work, talk to your pharmacist or GP.
You can buy over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers in several different forms, including:
- tablets, caplets (longer tablets that are rounded at each end that may be easier to swallow) or capsules that you swallow
- a powder or tablet to dissolve in water
- a liquid or syrup
- suppositories – soft, shaped tablets that you put into your anus
- gels or sprays that you rub into your skin
- patches that you put on your skin
You can buy OTC painkillers from a pharmacy, supermarket or other shops without a prescription from your GP. You can only buy packs of 16 tablets of paracetamol from a shop or supermarket. If you buy paracetamol from a pharmacist, you can buy a pack of 32 tablets or capsules. Shops and pharmacies can’t sell you any more than a total of 100 tablets or capsules in one go. This is to help prevent people from overdosing or accidentally taking too many.
They also point out that any medicine can be dangerous if you take too much of it. If you take too much paracetamol, it can cause serious liver damage, which can be life-threatening. Sometimes, there are no symptoms until a day or so afterwards. Taking too many NSAIDs can make you feel or be sick or cause hearing problems such as tinnitus. Taking too much aspirin can cause you to hyperventilate (breathe abnormally quickly) as well as hearing problems, and you may sweat a lot.
It’s getting a balance with your pain killers that is important. I weaned myself off the opioids I was on and felt so much better for it but recently my pain has been so bad that I have needed the odd one. I was shocked at how different I felt while taking them and it certainly made me think twice before taking too many of them.
The NHS website points out that the type of medicines that you need to treat your pain depend on what type of pain you have. They say that for pain associated with inflammation, such as back pain or headaches, paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers work best.
The aim of taking medication is to improve your quality of life. All painkillers have potential side effects, so you need to weigh up the advantages of taking them against the disadvantages. The NHS website has a list of pain medications and the type of side effects you can experience with some of them.