Effect and risk of pain relievers
ASA (aspirin), paracetamol, ibuprofen or diclofenac can be found in almost every household in Germany. It is estimated that 3.8 million Germans swallow painkillers annually, saving themselves a lot of visits to the doctor. However, experts warn against the use of pain-relieving pills such as "lozenges". Many supplements can cause serious side effects such as bleeding from the stomach, breathing disorders and even a heart attack.
Instead of taking painkillers straight away, go to the doctor first. “Even simple painkillers should never be taken without medical advice. It makes a lot more sense to have an exact diagnosis first, "Gerhard Müller-Schwefe, President of the German Society for Pain Therapy, explains to the news agency" dpa ". Many people take painkillers far too often and are not sure about possible side effects and consequences Doctors all too often hear that “it's just aspirin.” Ursula Sellerberg from the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA) advises that over-the-counter pain relievers should be taken for a maximum of three consecutive days.
"On the whole, Germans use painkillers responsibly," Professor Kay Brune of the German Pain Society told the news agency. "Nevertheless, there is abuse." Painkillers with anti-inflammatory effects are most often taken. This group includes acetylsalicylic acid (ASA, aspirin), diclofenac and ibuprophen. These drugs are available without a prescription in the pharmacy and are therefore mistakenly classified as “harmless” by laypersons. Anti-inflammatory painkillers prevent the formation of pain messengers, counteract inflammation and also lower fever. "Anti-inflammatory drugs are used most often, but they have a lot of complications," emphasizes Müller-Schwefe. "The fact that they are freely available does not make them harmless medicines." Taking them can increase the risk of stomach bleeding and heart attacks.
The risk of damaging effects of anti-inflammatory painkillers increases with age. "The anti-inflammatories mentioned suppress the warning symptom of pain and hinder healing," adds Brune. The drugs would inhibit so-called prostaglandins, the body's own protective hormones. To protect the intestinal tract, the kidney and the cardiovascular system. " Müller-Schwefe also emphasizes: “Such drugs change the body permanently. You don’t have to panic, but they’re not lollipops. "
In general, the damaging effect strongly depends on the age of the patient, the form of therapy and the dosage of the pain reliever, reports Brune. So healthy, young people are less at risk if they swallow a pain pill every now and then. However, the risk increases with age. "Unfortunately, it is the older people who need their daily pain reliever to cope with the daily challenges."
Paracetamol damages the liver Paracetamol only works in the central nervous system and not like ASA, diclofenac or iboprofen in the inflammatory areas. Paracetamol in particular has been criticized for some time. Brune said in an interview from 2012 that a drug like paracetamol would no longer be approved today. Damage to the liver could occur from a daily dose of four grams. Paracetamol is a drug that can be fatal even with a small overdose, Brune told the magazine. It is not a beautiful death, since it takes several days. The drug expert advocated withdrawing the drug from the market.
Brune reports to the news agency that the active ingredient is often contained in combination preparations, making dosing difficult for patients and doctors. "This can easily lead to overdoses." Because acetaminophen has a toxic effect on the liver, patients with liver damage should resort to another active ingredient. The drug should also be avoided if you are heavily underweight or have chronic muscle diseases.
In addition, it has only been found in recent years that paracetamol, like ibuprofen or diclofenac, inhibits protective hormones and thus also has the problems of so-called prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors, according to Brune.
Opiates are prescribed as painkillers for chronic pain. Other painkillers dock onto the opiate receptors throughout the body - in the nervous system, the periphery, on inflamed tissue, in the spinal cord and in the brain. This type of pain reliever requires a prescription. Usually a special recipe is required. Usually, doctors only prescribe opiates for chronic pain, for example after serious accidents or cancer. Brune reports that the painkillers would also be prescribed if no other therapy provided sufficient relief for rheumatic conditions. The active ingredients contained in these agents are derived from morphine. “They have their own problems and are rightly only available on prescription, mostly on special recipes. Your addiction potential is great, "says Brune. The opiates can cause weight loss, nausea, breathing disorders and many other health problems.
Other types of pain relievers are antiepileptics and coanalgesics. Antiepileptics are used for nerve injuries, infections and metabolic disorders, reports Müller-Schwefe. They have a stabilizing effect on the membrane of the nerve cells. These pain relievers are prescribed by doctors when nerves send pain information when there is actually no harm.
Pain-relieving coanalgesics are not actually pain relievers. "They act on the sodium ion channels and are able to relax the muscles," explains the expert. Antidepressants are one example. (Ag)
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