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Painkillers Before Exercise May Be Bad for the Gut

Ibuprofen Before Exercise: Second Opinion

"The findings are not a surprise to me at all," says Heather Gillespie, MD, MPH, a sports medicine doctor at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. She reviewed the findings.

The practice of taking a painkiller before endurance events or other strenuous exercise is very common, she says. Her patients talk about it often.

Gillespie, too, cautions her patients against the practice. "They're over-the-counter medicines," she tells them, "but they are not low risk."

"I think this [study] gives us more evidence," Gillespie says, that the drugs should be used prudently.

Besides potential gastrointestinal damage, there are other hazards, she says. Among them: If you take a painkiller before a strenuous workout, and then injure yourself, you may not know it. The painkiller may mask your symptoms.

The drug-facts label for ibuprofen, provided by the FDA, states that ibuprofen should be used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains. It also warns that the drug may cause stomach bleeding, especially in adults 60 years or older.

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