Opioids Aren't America's Only Painkiller Problem

From Drugs.com - January 30, 2018

Opioids Are not America's Only Painkiller Problem

TUESDAY, Jan. 30, 2018 -- There's a well-known crisis going on with opioid painkiller abuse, but new research reveals a sizeable chunk of Americans are popping far too many over-the-counter pain relievers, too.

Among those surveyed who take over-the-counter ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), 15 percent admitted to exceeding daily maximum dosage when taking either ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the study found.

NSAIDs include popular medications such as aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex, a prescription pain reliever.

The researchers tracked week-long NSAID "diaries" from about 1,300 adults, completed between 2015 and 2016. All had taken an ibuprofen medication at some point in the month before completing their diaries.

Many users said they'd either exceeded the prescribed daily limit of a single NSAID; taken two different NSAIDs together; or had popped a second dose earlier than indicated.

Study author David Kaufman, director of Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, noted that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are among "the most-used medicines in the U.S.

"[But] most NSAID use is over-the-counter," he added, "with users deciding what to take without involvement by health care providers."

Kaufman believes NSAID misuse has the potential for serious side effects, including both gastrointestinal bleeding and/or a raised risk for heart attack.

His team's findings "can help guide programs that will lead to safer NSAID use," he said.

In the study, participants were 45, on average. Three-quarters were white, and about 60 percent were women.

About 87 percent said they took OTC ibuprofen during the week they recorded their usage habits. But about 37 percent also took other types of NSAIDs, with aspirin being the most popular, followed by naproxen.

That said, less than 40 percent actually understood that the NSAID medications they were taking were, in fact, NSAIDs.

What's more, 11 percent of ibuprofen users reported exceeded daily dosage instructions at least once during the week. That figure hit 23 percent among naproxen users.

Overall, 15 percent of participants were found to have exceeded dosing recommendations for at least one NSAID on one or more days throughout the week.

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