3 Dangerous Pain Relievers You Should Avoid

Pete Olsson

/

September 1, 2020

Retirement Health
3 Dangerous Pain Relievers You Should Avoid | Retire Fearless

We want to make sure to say, first and foremost, that pain medication can be necessary, and it’s important to talk about your options over with your doctor. We absolutely are not here to say that everyone should manage their pain without taking medication for it. We know that pain medication can mean the difference between having a quality of life, and leading an agonizing existence. This article is not intended to be used in place of your physician's advice, and you shouldn’t stop taking any medication without first consulting your medical physician. We’re going to give you information so that you can take a more active role in making an informed decision for your health. 

It's easy to get overwhelmed by your aches and pains, because of this, you have sought out the help of your physician. Your physician will do what they're trained to do, analyze the problem, and prescribe you medication. Pain relievers are the most common, most of which are medications like Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Codeine - better known as opioids. Opioids are an epidemic, on a nationwide scale, but those prescriptions are still being thrown around without caution or thoughts of consequences. “In 2016, health care providers across the US wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication—a rate of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people.” They can be addicting and life-altering in more ways than one. They work, but in doing so, they numb your pain receptors. Since they numb your pain, as opposed to relieving it, once you start using them, it will be much harder to break away from the feeling that they give you. In this article, we're going to identify three of the more dangerous pain relievers, why you should avoid them when possible, and safer alternatives to make the pain that you’re facing more manageable! 

While the potency of opioids is the reason they’re prescribed for severe pain, they are highly addictive for the same reason. Once you begin using opioids long term, it’s challenging to get off of them because other treatments aren’t going to feel like they’re even touching the pain. Once you’ve had the most potent medicine, other treatments are going to drastically pale in comparison. Oftentimes a good doctor will feel like your worst enemy because instead of giving you enough of your pain meds just to make you feel better, they will try to keep you away from them, or ensure that you are taking the minimal amount you can function on. It’s not because they want to see you suffer, but because they’re looking out for your best interest in trying to prevent addiction, or gradually increase your meds over as much time as possible in the case of a progressive chronic illness.

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1. Oxyxodone

The first pain reliever that we’re going to give you information about is Oxycodone. Oxycodone is used most commonly as an around-the-clock treatment for patients with moderate to severe pain that lasts for a lengthened period of time. It is only available to be taken as a tablet. Oxycodone can be used to relieve a wide variety of pains, with causes such as osteoarthritis and forms of cancer. 

With a pain reliever as potent as Oxycodone, there are a plethora of possible side effects that you could encounter. Here are a few of the more common examples; chills, cold sweats, confusion, difficult or labored breathing, dizziness, faintness or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position, fever, tightness in the chest, and twitching. If those aren't bad enough, some of the rarer side effects include bloating or swelling of appendages, blood in the urine, chest pain, and a decrease in the frequency of urination. If you’re already taking Oxycodone and experience any of these side effects, reach out to your doctor as soon as they occur.

2. Hydrocodone

The second pain reliever to be wary of is Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone- which, when combined with acetaminophen, becomes Vicodin- is used to treat moderate to severe pain resulting from a chronic condition, like different forms of arthritis, cancer, injury, or surgical procedure. All of which are common in folks that are around retirement age or older. Hydrocodone is available as an oral syrup and oral tablet. 

Hydrocodone, much like other opioids, can be a highly addictive drug if not used exactly as prescribed by your physician. Another reason to avoid Hydrocodone is the potential side effects. Some of the more common side effects include; stomach pain, dry mouth, tiredness, headaches, back pain, muscle tightening, ringing in the ears, and uncontrollable shaking of a body part. Rarer but more severe side effects include; chest pain, agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

3. Codeine

The third pain reliever to avoid would be Codeine, it isn't as dangerous as Oxycodone, or Hydrocodone, but can share the addictive traits. Prolonged or reckless use will cause you to develop an addiction. Codeine is a natural opiate that is a frequently prescribed pain reliever. The effects only last for a couple of hours, so it is often prescribed along with aspirin or acetaminophen. Codeine is accessible as a tablet, capsule, or liquid.

Common side effects may include bloating, blurred vision, cold clammy skin, confusion, constipation, darkened urine, difficult or troubled breathing, dizziness, fainting, fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse, irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing, no blood pressure or pulse, and no breathing. Others may be pale or blue lips, fingernails or skin, redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest. If any of these symptoms occur, you should contact your doctor.

Most people at least know someone who is taking opioids, and 130 people a day die because of an opioid overdose. While the risk is significantly reduced by the proper use of medication, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms of an overdose. Symptoms may include shallow, slowed, or stopped breathing, confusion, lessened alertness, and loss of consciousness, and people may experience small pupils, unresponsiveness, or blue skin from poor circulation. It’s imperative that you call 911 immediately if you think someone may be experiencing an opioid overdose.

With how dangerous pain relievers can be your physician should seek out alternative medications or tactics to relieve pain or make you feel better. There are a lot of different options out there for you to try.

Physical therapy is an excellent option for chronic pain. It can help you to be able to move without pain, or learn how to move in different ways that don't aggravate pre-existing conditions.  Some techniques include, “massage, manipulation of joints and bones, manual therapy using hands or tools on soft tissue, cold laser therapy to alleviate inflammation and pain and release endorphins, and microcurrent stimulation, which emits alpha waves into the brain and increases serotonin and dopamine to alleviate pain naturally.” A physical therapist will be able to spend more time with you than a standard doctor, and make a detailed and individualized plan to help with pain management for a variety of different circumstances. Visiting an acupuncturist can also help relieve moderate to severe pain and keep you away from pain relievers. Acupuncture is especially useful in creating long term pain, especially neck and back pain, and osteoarthritis. The insertion of acupuncture needles in certain places can interrupt pain signals. While it doesn’t cure diseases, many people do think that it makes their pain symptoms better, and it can be used as one facet of a pain management plan. If those options don't work, you could also consider non-opioid medications. Acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, for example, can have some pain managing effect. Finally, taking care of yourself with relaxation, exercise, and healthy habits can work wonders. 

If you’re considering taking opioids, like with all medical decisions, it’s crucial that you make an informed decision with the guidance of a doctor. There are circumstances where you have to take the most potent medication available to improve your quality of life, but it’s always a good idea to look into all of your options, and sometimes to try different things to make sure that you’re in the best health possible.

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