People Unaware of Harmful Effects

Everyday medicine with possible
side effects; ©

Despite the widespread use of store-bought and prescription painkillers, also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), this is the first study to look at the characteristics of the population who frequently uses painkillers and their attitudes and behaviours.

"This study shows just how common these medications are used and highlights the lack of insight into their potential dangers," said C. Mel Wilcox, MD, lead study author from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "The findings paint a clear picture of the need for patient and physician education efforts and interventions to help prevent unnecessary complications from painkillers."

A nationwide survey of adult households in the United States was commissioned to determine perceptions of NSAIDs users on the effectiveness of the drugs and their safety, and knowledge regarding side effects and medical complications associated with over-the-counter and prescription painkillers. NSAID users were defined in the study as those people who used prescription or over-the-counter painkillers on at least two occasions in the year prior to the survey for at least five consecutive days at a time.

Of the 807 people surveyed who used NSAIDs, 54 percent were not aware of the potential side effects of these drugs and 18 percent has previously experienced side effects. Those who used over-the-counter painkillers commonly experienced side effects such as stomach pain, internal bleeding and ulcers. Moreover, nearly 30 percent of these people did not consider themselves at risk for any side effects associated with painkiller use. Similar numbers of people who exclusively used prescription painkillers were unaware of their risks and experienced complications.; Source: American Gastroenterological Association