Prescription Drug Abuse: How I Got Addicted to Painkillers
What You Need to Know About OTC Pain Medication
More than 30 million Americans take drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen every day. But overuse is risky: Half of chronic migraines and as many as 25 percent of headaches are "rebound" episodes triggered by taking OTC pain meds for more than 15 days a month. "Our research shows that the body has certain systems that can turn off migraines," explains Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of Thomas Jefferson University Headache Center in Philadelphia. "If you take too many drugs meant to block the pain, you effectively block that mechanism, which can make the attacks more severe and frequent." Not to mention the more serious potential side effects of overdoing pain meds: Acetaminophen overdoses led to more than 56,000 ER visits and 458 deaths from liver failure in 2006. The bottom line: Follow the dosage directions on the label, and if your pain persists, see your doctor.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2009.
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