The Dangers of Oral Pain Medications
Oral pain medications are associated with a wide range of risks and dangers. They are extremely powerful and these drugs have the ability to impact virtually every organ system in the human body. Acute and chronic pain sufferers alike are at risk when they take oral pain medications, including NSAIDS, acetaminophen and opiates.
Consider the following factoids concerning the dangers of oral pain medication drugs.
- Acetaminophen drugs such as Tylenol are a primary cause of chronic liver damage and potentially-deadly acute liver failure.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as NSAIDs, encompass a wide range of over-the-counter medications including Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen and Motrin. Prescription and OTC NSAIDs are used to treat arthritis, soft tissue injuries and a wide range of other conditions.
- NSAID drugs are known to cause serious gastrointestinal problems. They strip away protective prostaglandins, which typically prevent ulcer formation. In addition, they also increase stomach acidity, which promotes the formation of ulcers. This leads to chronic stomach ulcers and intestinal bleeding.
- NSAIDs can contribute to symptoms like indigestion, constipation, nausea, an irritable bowel syndrome.
- NSAIDS can cause toxicity and chronic renal problems, as they serve to decrease the kidneys’ blood supply.
- A type of NSAID drug known as COX-2 Inhibitors will reduce intestinal upset, but they’re linked with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Examples of COX-2 Inhibitors include drugs such as Celebrex, Vioxx and Bextra. These drugs increase the production of a protein that increases your risk of blood clots; these subsequently trigger heart attacks and strokes.
- Opiate painkillers like Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Vicodin and Percocet are highly-controlled narcotics that are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) due to the high potential for abuse and addiction.
It’s believed that anywhere from 26,000 to 55,600 Americans may have died after taking the drug Vioxx. Up to 139,000 suffered a heart attack or stroke.
The European Medicines Agency no longer recommends the usage of COX-2 Inhibitor medications for patients who have suffered a stroke or heart disease. They also issued a cautionary statement for individuals who smoke, or suffer from conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
The CDC reports that opiate-related ER visits skyrocketed from 114,600 in 2004 to 305,900 in 2008.
According to the CDC, the incidence of fatal overdose due to opiates jumped from 4,000 cases in 1999 to nearly 14,000 cases in 2006. It’s said that prescription painkiller overdoses kill more Americans each year than illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine combined.
The 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that prescription painkillers came second only to marijuana when it comes to drug use among teens and adults alike.
Opiate medications like methadone, fentanyl and oxycontin were blamed for 21% of poisoning deaths in 1999; this figure jumped to 37% in 2006.
Deaths from adverse drug reactions – many of which involve pain medications – are the fourth most common cause of death in the United States, behind, auto accidents, alcohol-related deaths, homicides, AIDS, poisoning and suicides.