Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Warnings from the fine print.

We all use over-the-counter medicines for headaches, pain, and fevers, but here’s what you need to know before poppin’ the pain killers.

For the party gals…
Acteaminophen (Tylenol and in some cold/flu meds)- no anti-inflammatory effects, just relief of pain and fever. This analgesic should not be used when drinking alcohol or for a hangover because it is metabolized through your liver and in the presence of alcohol can cause the build up of a toxic metabolite.

For the family planners…
NSAIDs- “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” – Naproxen (Aleve), Ibuprofen (Motrin), Aspirin, Meloxicam and Ketorolac. Used for fever, pain and inflammation. These are okay to use when drinking alcohol because they are metabolized through the kidneys. However… These should NOT be used in the last three months of pregnancy. All NSAIDs decrease prostaglandin levels that are important for the patency of a duct that shunts the blood away from the unformed lungs of a fetus.

For the hot mommas…
Aspirin (also an NSAID and a Salicylate) used for fever, pain and inflammation. This drug is most often used in a low dose for it’s anti-platelet effect for prevention of heart attacks and stroke. It can have negative effects in viral infections (i.e. the flu or chicken pox), especially in children. It can cause Reye’s syndrome (brain and liver dysfunction).

So…. Pay attention to the over-the-counter medicine labels, don’t mix drugs if you’re not sure about their side effects and try to remember these 3 things when it comes to OTC pain relievers.
1. Tylenol and alcohol don’t mix.
2. You can’t drink when you’re pregnant but you can use Tylenol. (Forget everything else).
3. Chicken pox and the childhood flu only get worse with Aspirin.

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