Be MedicineSmart™ this Summer: Safe Use of OTC Pain Relievers

With the start of the summer season, more consumers will be enjoying outdoor activities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) remind consumers to be aware of the types of pain medications they take and the risks associated with their use. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are separated into two main categories: those whose active ingredient is acetaminophen and those that contain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). People who have certain health risks should choose one type of pain reliever over the other. For example, taking too much acetaminophen has been linked to an increased risk of liver damage, especially when consuming three or more alcoholic drinks with the medicine. Additionally, consumers should also check whether their prescription medications contain acetaminophen, and if so they should avoid taking OTC products also containing acetaminophen in order to avoid the risk of overdose. Taking NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium, can increase the risk for stomach bleeding for certain individuals, such as those over age 60 and people taking prescription blood thinners. Also see: The Alliance for the Rational Use of NSAIDs , of which NCPIE is a member.