Painkillers are sometimes necessary, but they can also be harmful. There’s a fine line between when painkiller medications are helpful, and when they become a problem. When it comes to painkillers, one of the biggest problems today is misuse and addiction. Many people suffer serious health issues from taking too many painkillers, but many people who are taking them may not realize when they’re consuming too many.
Provided below is an educational guide to help you learn what happens when you take too many painkillers, including painkiller side effects, whether they’re over-the-counter medicines or prescription opioids.
What Painkillers Do
There are huge differences between the two types of painkillers, but both over-the-counter drugs and opioids have the same purpose: to decrease pain by blocking signals in the nervous system. Painkillers, especially opioids, are known to bring a feeling of pleasure as they reduce pain. These medications increase dopamine activity to make people feel relaxed, happy, and sometimes high.
Types of Painkillers
Over-the-counter medications are typically available at any local drug store or pharmacy, while opioids must be prescribed by a medical professional. Types of painkillers include:
Known as NSAIDs, the following drugs are taken for mild pain or fevers:
The following drugs are taken for serious injury, for chronic pain, or after surgery:
While painkillers can drastically help with pain, they can easily be overused. If someone takes any type of painkiller for too long or in too high of a quantity, they may begin to feel painkiller side effects that can cause severe health issues. If you or a loved one has taken too many painkillers, you may notice the following symptoms. Additionally, painkiller side effects may differ between the two different types.
Over the Counter Medications:
- Internal stomach bleeding (caused by taking Aspirin for too long)
- Liver damage (if Acetaminophen is taken in excess or mixed with alcohol)
- Kidney problems (caused by taking too much Ibuprofen)
- High blood pressure
- Fluid retention
- Stomach ulcers
If you regularly take over-the-counter medication, it’s important to visit your doctor if you notice any changes in your body. Issues may be serious and may take time to develop.
- Difficulty breathing
- Dependence and higher tolerance
- Addiction and substance abuse
- Overdose (also possible with OTC medicines)
- Tooth decay and bone loss
- Withdrawal after stopping
The effects of opioids are severe and may even cause death. If you notice the above signs in yourself or someone you know, it’s important to consult a medical professional to determine the best next steps.
Using Painkillers Responsibly
If you or a loved one must use over-the-counter or prescription painkillers to reduce pain, there are several steps to take to potentially avoid addiction or dependence, including:
- Take medicines as prescribed and decrease if you notice higher tolerance
- Talk to your doctor if you still feel pain
- Tell your doctor all medicines you’re taking
- Be aware of side effects
- Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs
It’s important to note that addiction can still happen even if you take all the proper precautions. If you or someone you know is experiencing the side effects of taking too many painkillers, we’re here to help. At Silver Pines, we offer a detox program as well as residential addiction treatment. Contact our team of medical professionals at 267.719.8689 to get started today.