Living with joint and back pains can be unbearable at times. It limits your physical activity and diminishes your quality of life.
Society seems to condone taking a pill to resolve pain, but in most cases, the ‘little pill’ is going to cause more harm than benefit.
Before you know it, you’re talking with your physician, mentioning how this is an everyday problem that needs a solution. Chances are if you suffer from chronic body pains, you’ve been prescribed over the counter painkillers and they are a mainstay in your medicine cabinet.
The problem with over the counter pain killers is that it only takes away these pains temporarily. And if you abuse them it could cause major damage to your liver.
It’s important to understand what types of over the counter painkillers can cause liver damage.
The Main Ingredient that Can Hurt Your Liver: Acetaminophen
Common drugs that your doctor may prescribe you if you have joint pain, or any kind of severe discomfort, include Vicodin, Lortab, and Percocet. All three of these have high dosages of acetaminophen.
What is Acetaminophen?
According to WebMD, more than 50 million use acetaminophen each week because it is the main ingredient in pain medication. It is found in many over the counter drugs.
When you follow the directions/label it can be very helpful and safe. It also won’t damage your liver. But if you pay close attention to what you’re supposed to take, then you’ll quickly realize that it is very common for people to take way too many pills for way too long which leads to some severe consequences.
If you take too much of it can seriously hurt your liver and can even cause liver failure.
Yes, over the counter pain killers may be better than the other prescription pain killers, but both damaging side effects.
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A common prescription pain killer is Vicodin.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is an opiate medication that is prescribed by your doctor and it contains two active ingredients:
Both of these active ingredients are painkillers. Hydrocodone is an opiate and acetaminophen as we already know is the pain killer that is found in your most common over the counter pain pills for joint and body pains.
Acetaminophen is mixed in or added to the hydrocodone in Vicodin. This increases the analgesic properties. Another reason acetaminophen is added is to decrease the chances of abuse. The reasoning being is that this type of painkiller can be extremely harmful, and if people know that, they won’t consume more than the labeled directions.
One of the most frequently abused drugs in America is Vicodin. There were an estimated 100 million prescriptions for Vicodin and similar drugs last year.
When there’s an addiction to pain meds, it is followed by a rapid tolerance to the effects of the hydrocodone. As soon as the addiction is real, these people need to take greater quantities and higher doses so they don’t go through withdrawal.
Acetaminophen and Liver Damage.
Every drug you take is broken down and processed by the liver. It is the liver then that will be working overtime and be heavily stressed by over the counter painkiller abuse. It can also store toxins from the breakdown process.
The most significant liver damage results from acetaminophen, which is included in many of these drugs. Taking too much of it can lead to liver disease, failure, and even death.
As a result, more than 50,000 people visit the emergency room, with more than 200 dying.
In an effort to save the lives of some people who were abusing these drugs, the FDA limited the amount of acetaminophen in a painkiller to 325 mg per pill. Unfortunately, even with the limitations, many abusers still take more than the recommendation.
Dosage by the Numbers
- Four (4) grams per day for adults is the maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen
- Liver damage symptoms can happen between 7 and 10 grams per day for adults
Symptoms: How do You Know You Have Liver Damage
Now that we know what causes liver damage, but how do you know if you are experiencing it? After all, taking acetaminophen one-time can result in an overdose.
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
Sometimes you won’t be able to physically notice symptoms right away. In many cases, symptoms may not occur for up to 12 hours following overdose.
Back pains and chronic body pain are not easy to deal with on a daily basis. It’s almost inevitable that, if you suffer from this, you may need over the counter painkillers to help reduce pain.
The last thing you need is to end up at the hospital because you damaged your liver by overdosing on pain meds.
To Ensure Liver Health, Manage Your Medication
Medicines are supposed to help and can help you manage pains until you can hopefully feel better and stop taking them. However, they can be difficult to manage and can be potentially dangerous.
For the health of your liver and your overall health, be sure to take your over the counter painkillers properly. Do not deviate from the directions.
Who is at risk
You may think its pretty simple to read the label and follow directions. However, people who have multiple conditions, take a number of different medications and therefore are at risk. There is always the possibilities of dangerous drug interactions and overdose.
The elderly and children, whose bodies process medication differently, are also at a higher risk. Young and middle-aged adults aren’t as sensitive to dosage amounts and side effects of medications.
Follow dosage instructions.
This is such an important piece of controlling what you can control. There are specific tools you can use to remind you to take your medicine as directed. These tools can help you know how and when to take each medicine.
Read the label.
Another important step when taking medication. If you don’t read the label and miss something you shouldn’t, you could be staring down the barrel of a hurt liver, especially when it has to do with painkillers.
Know your medicine.
If you don’t research and know the side effects of your medicine, you could end up causing some serious damage to your body. You should know its purpose, ingredients and potential interactions with other medications.
Dealing with joint pain, back pains, and chronic body pains isn’t easy. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to experience. Know and understand how over the counter pain killers can hurt your liver.
And if your pains are such a level that you feel the need to take pain killers, even if you think it’s ‘just an over the counter’ painkiller. Please know that the word ‘killer’ is in there for a reason.
Stem cell therapy may be a better option in order to reduce your pains and help safeguard your vital organs.