Pain relievers can be fatal when ingested



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Pain relievers can cause liver damage and can even be fatal

Millions of Germans safely administer over-the-counter pain relievers every day, for example to symptomatically alleviate headaches, migraine attacks or back problems. However, what many do not know: Even the smallest amounts of the active ingredients can cause liver damage or, in the worst case, lead to death. Critical doctors have therefore been calling for pain relievers such as paracetamol to be prescribed for a long time.

Liver damage and serious side effects
The use of a pain reliever after a night of alcohol, back pain or headache has become part of everyday life for many people. Around 3.8 million people in Germany consume non-prescription pain relievers every year. Because no prescription from the family doctor or specialist is necessary, many wrongly assume that agents such as paracetamol or aspirin are harmless to health. Advertising in the pharmaceutical industry often suggests harmlessness to patients. The standard sentence: "If you have any questions, please contact the doctor or pharmacist" disappears in most people. Pain medication without a prescription is by no means harmless, but can produce massive side effects. In the worst cases, consumers suffer permanent liver damage, and some even die from pain killers.

Overdose is toxic
Overdose is a major danger. Professor Kay Brune from the University of Erlangen raises the alarm. Brune told Focus magazine that drugs like paracetamol "would no longer be approved today, not even by prescription." Even the small amount of four grams of the active ingredient per day can provoke severe liver damage in some patients. "Four grams is the maximum daily dose," explains the expert. If a pain patient takes the twice permitted amount of eight grams, acute liver failure threatens. Therefore, the medical expert fundamentally advises against taking paracetamol. “We have a drug on the market here that is fatal even with a small overdose. And that's not a nice death, it takes several days, ”warns the drug expert. He demands that the drug be withdrawn from the drug market for this reason.

Aspirin has always been celebrated as a miracle cure in conventional medicine. In addition to complaints such as headaches, the remedy is also said to effectively support conventional therapies for cardiovascular diseases. But this pain medication is also a thorn in the professor's eye. The active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is only recommended for people with serious cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack. The substance ASA only works temporarily for pain, but dilutes the blood in the long term. Therefore, medical interventions would often have to be postponed because the surgical patient had previously taken ASA. According to Brune, anyone who takes aspirin runs a “completely unnecessary risk of bleeding”.

Be careful with combined pain relievers
The renowned researcher is also concerned about the approval of combined pain medications. These contain several different active ingredients that can be combined. These are "particularly risky" because patients easily lose the necessary overview. Many find it difficult to estimate how much they have consumed with the combination products. The damaging effects on health are usually rated higher than the analgesic effect.

Is the pharmaceutical industry not interested in minimizing the side effects or why is the debate about these drugs getting stuck? Brune told the news magazine that neither ingredient is patented. Therefore, the drug manufacturers do not want to cover the costs of further research. The scientists would benefit equally from the results, the scientist explains.

If pain sufferers already need to take pain reliever medication, patients should use ibuprofen or deiclofenac instead of aspirin or acetaminophen, says Brune. But there are also health risks here, especially if the maximum amounts are exceeded. Although the named substances are better scientifically researched and generally more tolerable, the potency of these drugs is also highly effective and should not be confused with simple cough drops. If improperly taken, the protective mechanisms of the vessels can be damaged. The dose is crucial, according to the expert.

Research work from the past by Bern epidemiologists led by Prof. Peter Jüni had shown, among other things, that ibuprofen, for example, increases the risk of stroke by three times if the drug is continuously taken by test subjects over a longer period of time. The researchers came to the worrying result in the context of a meta-study of 31 studies and around 1160,000 study participants.

Better exercise and acupuncture
Patients with recurrent pain usually only have the causal treatment. Alternatively, alternative practitioners recommend acupuncture, which has already delivered good results in head and back pain in several scientific papers. Natural medicine or home remedies can also relieve mild pain and are usually very well tolerated. Prof. Peter Jüni also advises patients on active movement. This is more exhausting than taking a pill, but it is more successful in the long term. (sb)

Also read:
Pain relievers cause rising costs
Painkillers as the cause of pain?
Over-the-counter medicines are by no means safe
Home remedies for headaches

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