Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Aspirin the Most Trusted Painkiller?

After learning about the adverse side effects linked to prescription painkillers Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra, arthritis patients are turning back to over-the-counter drugs in hopes of finding a safer option.

Many are again opting for aspirin. Aspirin is regarded as one of the oldest, most trusted painkillers of all. In fact, it has been around for so long -- more than 100 years -- that it never went through the stringent tests today's drugs must go through in order to become non-prescription. With more than 100 billion tablets of aspirin consumed worldwide each year, aspirin is commonly used to treat inflammation and pain.

However, reliance on this over-the-counter drug may result in serious health problems, including gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach irritation. While aspirin may be fine for the occasional ache or pain, doctors do not recommend it for chronic pain sufferers because aspirin is not void of health risks.

One pharmacist (and senior editor for Harvard Health Publications) offered a word of caution pertaining to the safety of aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers: "My guess is that if aspirin was launched in 2004, it would not be an over-the-counter drug. People have the misunderstanding that if you can simply buy without a prescription, that it is completely safe to use. But every drug has side effects."

Although aspirin offers pain relief with less side effects than the Cox-2 inhibitors, there are other arthritis pain relief products, like Arthritin, that work completely side effect free.

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