Another Case Against OTC Painkillers

Frequent use of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increases the risk of cardiac arrest, according to a study published in European Heart Journal: Cardiovascular Pharmacology on December 24, 2016. Cardiac arrest is more likely to occur when patients take more than 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen per day.
The news is probably not very surprising to many chiropractors. The link between over-the-counter medications and certain health conditions, including kidney and liver damage, bleeding ulcers, gastrointestinal problems and anaphylaxis, has been well established. Unfortunately, your patients don’t read the same studies you do and don’t realize the dangers that NSAIDs and acetaminophen can pose.
Liver damage can occur from high doses or overdoses of acetaminophen. Damage is also a possibility when standard doses are combined with alcohol. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drink and Administration issued a warning about a rare but serious skin infection caused by acetaminophen. The potentially life-threatening infection can scar the skin, damage internal organs and even cause death.

Cardiac arrest is more likely to occur when patients take more than 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen per day.

NSAID use can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney damage. Kidney damage doesn’t usually cause symptoms until the condition is very advanced. At that point, it’s impossible to reverse the damage.

Sharing the News with Your Patients

Although every package of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and other OTC pain relievers contains information on side effects and potentially harmful long-term damage, few of us bother to read the fine print. In fact, some of your patients may not even realize that the reason that they experience frequent stomach pain and diarrhea is due to the “harmless” pill they take every day.
Educating your patients about the benefits of drug-free chiropractic care can help them enjoy healthier, pain-free lives. You can broach the subject with your patients by:

  • Asking About the Painkillers They Take. It’s much easier to bring up a discussion about the health risks of OTC medications or the latest research during a conversation. For example, if your patient takes ibuprofen, discuss side effects and risks and ask if he or she has experienced any of the common side effects. If the patient doesn’t take the medications, ask if others in his or her household do.
  • Making the Conversation Personal. Share your own personal experience with OTC painkillers. Although patients may tune out general warnings, they may be more likely to remember personal stories.
  • Explain How Chiropractic Treatment Can Decrease Painkiller Reliance. Your patients definitely notice that they feel better after a visit, but they may not make the connection between regular chiropractic care and decreased need for painkillers. Discussing why chiropractic treatment is so effective in treating a range of painful conditions can be helpful.

Educating your patients about the dangers of OTC medications and the benefits of chiropractic care can help them avoid preventable health conditions and enrich your practice. The more patients understand about the substances they put in their bodies, the better prepared they are to make wise health decisions.

Chiropractic Economics: Common Painkillers Linked to Greater Risk of Cardiac Arrest, 4/6/17
European Heart Journal: Cardiovascular Pharmcology: Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use Is Associated with Increased Risk of Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: a Nationwide Case–Time–Control Study, 12/24/16 Ibuprofen
Mayo Clinic: Acetaminophen
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Warns of Rare Acetaminophen Risk, 8/1/13

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