The Village Doctor, Benjamin G. Newman, MD 207-963-2001

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Relieving Pain: Long-term use of common pills is dangerous

by Benjamin G. Newman, MD

Publish date: Thu, Aug 7th, 2014

Many people may not realize that the use of commonly prescribed and over-the-counter medicine may be the cause of severe health problems.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with brand names such as Motrin, Aspirin and Aleve are included in the top 10 medicines prescribed or recommended by physicians.  Although NSAIDs are commonly used for pain and fever, they are not without very significant side effects.

NSAID use is associated with significant adverse effects such as:

* Gastrointestinal bleeding

* Peptic ulcer disease

* Kidney failure

* Liver failure

* High blood pressure

* Heart attacks

People over the age of 60 are five to six times more likely to develop NSAID-induced peptic ulcers. Every year over 100,000 people are hospitalized in the United States because of NSAID related side effects and over 17,000 people die from GI bleeding.  Despite their common use, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, asthma, heart disease, stomach or intestinal disease or those on antidepressants should not take NSAIDs without talking to their doctor first.

There are many botanicals, spices, natural foods and supplements that act in the same way as NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, pain and fever, but without the side effects.  This alternative approach to mainstream medicine will be featured in upcoming articles.

As Hippocrates said: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

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