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Are over-the-counter painkillers safe to use?

ANSWER

If you take them properly and follow the label instructions, over-the-counter painkillers are safe for most people. But if you need pain relief for more than 10 days, talk to your doctor.

Although they're usually safe, side effects of over-the-counter painkillers can occur and may be serious for some people. For instance, if you use blood-thinning medicine or have active stomach or bowel ulcers, don't take aspirin or other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

SOURCES:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold: Treatment."

Mayo Clinic: "Common Cold."

Medline Plus: "Flu," "Common Cold," "Pain Relievers."

MedicineNet: "Pain Management: Over-the-Counter."

WebMD: "Kids' Cold Medicines: New Guidelines."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on September 9, 2019

SOURCES:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold: Treatment."

Mayo Clinic: "Common Cold."

Medline Plus: "Flu," "Common Cold," "Pain Relievers."

MedicineNet: "Pain Management: Over-the-Counter."

WebMD: "Kids' Cold Medicines: New Guidelines."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on September 9, 2019

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When is aspirin not safe for use in children?

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