Painkillers: Low doses can lead to adverse side effects – ‘stop taking the pain relief’
This Morning: Dr Helen gives advice on mixing painkillers
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People who suffer from arthritis should feel some relief within an hour of taking NSAIDs, but it may take several weeks before a person begins to feel the full benefits… if they have not started to suffer from side effects. Leading charity Versus Arthritis pointed out that NSAIDs can include: ibuprofen, aspirin, celecoxib, and naproxen. “Even at low doses, NSAIDs can cause side effects,” Versus Arthritis cautioned, such as swollen ankles.
Taking NSAIDs could also lead to headaches, dizziness, stomach pains, sickness, diarrhoea, and indigestion.
The side effects might include bleeding, problems with urination, chest pains and difficulty breathing, or a rash or sensitivity to sunlight.
“If you experience any side effects, stop taking the pain relief and speak to your doctor,” Versus Arthritis instructed.
Long-term use of NSAIDs can lead to issues with different bodily organs, such as the liver, kidney, and heart.
Furthermore, long-term use of these types of painkillers can cause issues with blood circulation.
The NHS noted that NSAIDs may also be taken to relieve symptoms of headaches, painful periods, sprains and strains, in addition to colds and flu.
And while the painkillers can be utilised for a myriad of health issues, many people are not suited to take the painkiller.
In addition to the risk of adverse side effects, people who have asthma are advised to speak to a pharmacist before taking NSAIDs.
The painkillers may also not be suitable for people over the age of 65, women who are breastfeeding, or those who may be taking other medication.
“NSAIDs might not necessarily need to be avoided in these cases,” the NHS noted.
“But they should only be used on the advice of a healthcare professional as there may be a higher risk of side effects.”
The NHS added: “As NSAIDs can cause troublesome side effects, alternatives are often recommended first.”
The main alternative is paracetamol, which is available over the counter and is safe for most people to take.
If you are suffering from long-term pain and you are unable to take NSAIDs, do speak to your doctor about possible alternatives.
Dependent on which type of pain you are trying to relieve, other options include cold and heat therapy.
Take, for example, a swollen knee from osteoarthritis – a form of arthritis – pain relief might be achieved by placing a hot water bottle on the area.
Alternatively, using a bag of frozen peas (wrapped in a tea towel) on the painful area might help to relieve pain in the short term.
“Do not put ice directly on your skin, as it might cause a cold burn,” the health body cautioned. “Wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth or towel first.”
Exercise and stretches can also be helpful in mitigating back pain, for example, but it’s best to see a specialist to get the best moves for your specific ailments.
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