Safe Pain Relief With Aspirin Therapy
On aspirin therapy? Aspirin can interact with other drugs, causing side effects. Know your risks.
Safe Pain Relief When You're on Aspirin Therapy continued...
One over-the-counter option is acetaminophen, which is sold as Panadol and
Tylenol. It is not an NSAID: it works differently and has different risks.
For more severe pain, Cryer says that you could turn to prescription
narcotics. These include drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.
However, these drugs have drawbacks as well. First of all, none of them will
help with swelling. High doses of acetaminophen regularly can cause serious
liver damage. Narcotics taken regularly have other side effects, including
constipation and a risk of
But what if you have arthritis and a risk
attack? What if you need both a daily aspirin and an NSAID for pain
Then there's another option, says Cryer. You could also take a proton pump
inhibitor. These drugs -- like prescription Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid,
Prilosec, and Protonix and the over-the-counter Prilosec OTC -- reduce the
amount of acid in your stomach. This lowers the risk of ulcers
or bleeding, even if you are taking aspirin and another NSAID.
Aspirin Therapy: Working With Your Doctor
Cryer and Barr both say that we should not lose sight of aspirin's
"Having said all of these negative things about aspirin," says
Cryer, "I want to stress that it's an excellent medicine for the right
people. Everyone just needs to recognize that there are risks as well as
"Despite the risks, I think that more people should probably be
on daily aspirin therapy," says Barr. "Many people at risk of
cardiovascular disease -- men over 40, postmenopausal women, people with high
blood pressure, high cholesterol or especially diabetes -- should be getting
low-dose aspirin, but aren't."
If you take daily aspirin -- or are considering it -- here are some
Make sure your doctor (or doctors) knows about all other medicines
you take. This is key if you see multiple specialists, says Barr. For
instance, a rheumatologist might prescribe an NSAID for your arthritis, but
your cardiologist might suggest low-dose aspirin. Each doctor needs to know
what the other is doing. Otherwise, you could get into trouble.
Watch out for NSAIDs in other products. NSAIDs, including
aspirin, are common ingredients. They can pop up in places you might not
expect, says Barr. For instance, some cold and flu remedies, sleep aids, and
even antacids contain aspirin and other NSAIDs.
Watch out for signs of gastrointestinal bleeding. Signs
include vomiting blood or dark stools. Unfortunately, these are often the first
symptoms that something is wrong, says Cryer. Sometimes, stomach upset or pain
can be an early warning.
Never start taking daily aspirin without your doctor's
approval. It could do you more harm than good.