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How To Know If You Are An NSAID Abuser: Common Among Pain Relief Users

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
NSAID abuse common among pain reliever users

Are you an NSAID Abuser? You might be according to a new study that found that nearly one out of every five NSAID users exceed the recommended daily limit. Here's what you need to know to avoid the health consequences of NSAID abuse.


According to a news release from Boston University School of Medicine, a new study found that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex, are among the most commonly used medicines in the U.S.; and, are commonly abused as well in at least 1 out of every 5 users of these popular pain relievers.

NDSAIDs are very effective and helpful medications that thankfully are available over-the-counter for quick and immediate relief without having to wait at a clinic to receive a diagnosis before getting a prescription.

NSAIDs are helpful for:

--Reducing fever
--Relieving menstrual cramps
--Relieving pain caused by headaches, muscle aches, and stiffness
--Reducing inflammation (swelling)
--Easing pain from inflammation (such as muscle sprains)

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NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. However, prostaglandins are useful and necessary in that they are also involved in platelets formation for blood clotting and in protecting the stomach and intestinal lining. Therefore, when taking an NSAID to reduce your aches and pain, you are also reducing the same prostaglandins that protect the stomach and promote blood clotting, which in turn can then lead to ulcers in the stomach and intestines, and increase the risk of bleeding when too much of any NSAID is taken.

And herein lies the problem according to the study's findings--too often, users of NSAIDs ignore the recommended dosages and warnings on the label and exceed their daily limit by taking too much of a single NSAID at one time, taking two different NSAIDs at the same time, or failing to wait long enough before taking another dose.

"It is important to understand how many users exceed the maximum, how they do it and what characteristics are associated with over-use. This knowledge can help guide consumer interventions to promote safer use," explained lead author David Kaufman, ScD, Director of Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center and professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.

And there is a good reason why such a study is needed. According to a recent market analysis, the NSAID market is projected to grow markedly until the year 2022 driven by usage from consumers for the treatment of back pain, osteoarthritis and other diseases.

According to the news release, the study's data comes from approximately 1,300 individual NSAID users who completed a daily diary of their NSAID use for one week, while on ibuprofen during that time. From the diaries, the researchers calculated their ingested daily dosage and compared it with the recommended daily maximum dose.

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What the researchers found was that those who exceed the recommended dosage tend to have:

--a combination of medical factors such as chronic pain and poor physical state
--attitudes conducive to ignoring the label recommendations
--poor knowledge of those recommendations.

Their conclusion is that the problem of consumers exceeding the daily limit of NSAIDs is not a trivial problem, but one that needs to be dealt with, possibly by modifying NSAID user behaviors through education and compliance with label directions.

So, How Much NSAID is Too Much

Anytime you exceed the dosage recommended on the label, then it's too much NSAID--it's as simple as that.

However, if you decide to go ahead and take more than recommended the symptoms and warning signs of taking too much NSAID include:

--Unexplained bruising and bleeding
--Severe stomach pain
--Black stools-bloody or black, tarry stools
--Bloody or cloudy urine
--Blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in vomit (bleeding may occur without warning symptoms like pain)

For some informative advice on what to take other than NSAIDs for pain relief here are some natural painkiller alternatives.


Boston University School of Medicine January 26th, 2018 "Nearly One out of Five NSAID Users Exceed Daily Limit"

Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 2018; "Exceeding the daily dosing limit of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs among ibuprofen users" David W. Kaufman et al.

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