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The Dangers of Long-Term Use of Pain Medications

The Dangers of Long-Term Use of Pain Medications

Ongoing pain, either from an injury or an illness, can truly impact everyday living. It can be extremely frustrating to have doctors state that there is nothing that can be done about ongoing pain, and even loved ones may not fully understand the depth of a pain experience.

However, when it comes to pain medications, long-term use may have some consequences. Among the serious consequences of opioid use, other types of pain medications may also cause some nasty side effects. It’s important to know the risks of managing pain with medicine for long periods of time, whether that pain medication is Percocet, aspirin or anything in-between.

As new treatment methods become accepted, such as yoga, acupuncture and even newly-developed robotic surgeries, it may be important to seek newer treatment methods before resorting to long-term painkiller use. Here are a few types of painkiller medications, and the dangers of using those medications for too long:

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (often known under the brand name Tylenol) is a stand-along over-the-counter drug. It is also a primary ingredient in a number of opioid drugs, such as Percocet. Acetaminophen is often the first medicine that doctors prescribe for individuals of a variety of ages.

The problem with constant use of acetaminophen is that it directly leads to a condition called hepatotoxicity. Hepatotoxicity is an irreversible condition that occurs when the liver is damaged. Acetaminophen damages the liver and may quickly lead to hepatotoxicity. This disorder causes nausea and in some cases may cause yellowing of skin. In many instances, there may be no symptoms of this disorder, except for elevated liver enzymes that show up in a blood test. Elevated liver enzymes and hepatotoxicity can be fatal. Drugs like acetaminophen and Percocet are primary culprits. Many patients are not aware that combining other substances and even over-the-counter or prescribed drugs with acetaminophen may lead to liver toxicity. This situation is truly a silent killer.

NSAIDS

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a popular choice among individuals with chronic pain. These drugs may be available by prescription or over-the-counter. Naproxen and ibuprofen are common NSAID drugs. They work to help treat pain by helping to treat inflammation.

The problem with these mediations is that they may cause gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, renal (kidney) failure and internal bleeding. Another side effect is peripheral edema, which is swelling of the vascular system and body and a common symptoms of congestive heart failure. Many people think these effects seem impossible with over-the-counter doses, but with a high enough dose over a long period of time, the chances of these unfortunate side effects increases.

Chronic users may experience headaches without these medications. These are actually withdrawal symptoms. These medications are also known to lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, so it is highly recommended that a doctor supervise or offer assistance when an individual stops using these drugs.

Opioids

These well-known analgesic painkillers have been around for centuries and are only available by prescription in the United States. Some common opioid painkillers include Percocet, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine and morphine. These drugs slow the body system down and may lead to constipation, slowed breathing and nausea. Unfortunately, these drugs may also alter mood and temporarily alter personality. These drugs are highly and quickly addictive, but that is not their most serious threat. An opioid overdose is easy to accidentally commit, and severe, lasting illness or death are the consequences.

If an individual becomes addicted to opioid painkillers, that individual’s pain tolerance actually decreases, and the individual needs more and more of this substance in order to simply feel normal.

Opioid induced hyperalgesia is a condition that occurs when opioids no longer work. Not only that, but the person who used the opioids is left with an increased sensitivity to any and all pain. Even running into the living room table or hitting an elbow while cleaning may result in severe pain. It does take time to overcome opioid induced hyperalgesia, and the truth is, by that point, the individual actually needs help detoxing from these powerful drugs. If you or someone you love struggle with chronic pain and the use of pain medications like Percocet, call us at our 24 hour, toll free helpline to learn more. Call now, and begin your new life today.


[1] King, L. Pain Medications: How Long is Too Long? PainEDU. https://www.painedu.org/articles_timely.asp?ArticleNumber=10