Written by: Mutshidzi Kwinda
It seems that no matter how much we try to avoid it pain forms a part of our human existence. It could be physical, emotional, psychological, or even mental. Nonetheless, it affects us all in one way or another. When classifying pain, we have what we call acute pain and chronic pain. In this article, I will cover the predominant type of pain; acute pain (mild to moderate). Which is mostly treated by a group of medications called Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.
NSAIDs are a class of medications used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever. These medications have been used by generations of people to treat a wide range of pain. For women, one of the most common NSAIDs we know and often use is ibuprofen (also known by various brand names such as Brufen, Advil, Motrin, Nurofen, Betagesic, etc.). Which is most effective in the treatment of period pains, discomfort, and abdominal cramps.
Some other examples of NSAIDs include medications with the active ingredients such as; Aspirin, diclofenac, indomethacin, piroxicam, naproxen, mefenamic acid, etc. These medications are also effective in the treatment of mild to moderate pain depending on the dosage, schedule, and duration of use. NSAIDs are also used to treat dental and bone pain. As well as dysmenorrhea (period pains), headaches, and acute gout.
Whilst the above mentioned are readily available without a script from a DR. It is important to note that they can still have adverse effects. Especially when used for prolonged periods of time and incorrectly. The 12th edition of the South African Medicine Formulary book highlights this stating that NSAIDs have a propensity to cause severe adverse effects. Of the effects that usually occur, dyspepsia is most common and occurs early during the treatment with NSAIDs. Dyspepsia is explained by Mayo Clinic as a burning sensation, bloating or gassiness, nausea, or feeling full after starting to eat.
The medical experts and authors of the SAMF further detailed that serious effects are mostly associated with the gastrointestinal tract (the pipe through which food travels from mouth to anus). Such effects include bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach and intestines.
As someone who has worked in a pharmacy, I have seen clients and patients struggling to understand why they were advised to not be dependent on medications such as NSAIDs.
It is highly recommended that you follow the pharmacist instructions when purchasing prescriptions and over the counter medications and ask questions where you need clarity to avoid complications or adverse effects.
Last but not the least, ALWAYS take NSAIDs with food. Not only will this help buffer and decrease the above-mentioned effects. But will ensure you do not become addicted. Drinking alcohol with these medications can also increase the risk of gastrointestinal tract issues and liver toxicity.