What’s safe to use for pain? Check before popping that OTC medication

What's safe to use for pain? Check before popping that OTC medication

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - You're sore from overdoing it at the gym or spring cleaning. But you can't slow down, and instead you pop an over-the-counter painkiller such as Advil (ibuprofen), aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen) or an Aleve (naproxen). They're not prescription pills, but could these pain pills be dangerous to your health?

Dr. Rashid Khalid with Mercy Health says yes.

"Unfortunately, they're under this impression it's safe. That's why they're being sold in Walmart and CVS," Dr. Khalid said.

What's really surprising is the low threshold for danger. Dr. Khalid says taking just two over-the-counter pain pills a week on a regular basis can lead to severe health complications, and even death, for some patients with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, gastrointestinal or cardiac problems.

Rich Graham takes ibuprofen almost every day is surprised by Dr. Khalid's over-the-counter pain medication recommendation. He has had hip replacement and knee surgeries, and is on his feet for much of his 12-hour shift.

"It doesn't make me feel good that's for sure, I don't know how I can continue to perform at my job without a little bit of help," Graham said.

Where does that leave someone who needs to take the edge off occasional pain? Consult with your doctor first. Then consider looking into alternative therapies — including alternating application of heat and cold, yoga, meditation, massage or seeing a chiropractor.

Dr. Khalid also notes the importance of each person's investment in managing his or her pain with changes to lifestyle, including a balanced, nutritious diet, more sleep and time to recover from injuries.

“You know the ad of the happy, healthy man who just took an Aleve and is good to go for 12 hours? He’s not real,” Dr. Khalid said.