Before we start, let’s take this scenario;
….. nobody wants to live in a dirty house, immediately after breakfast, you and your siblings (or kids) start sweeping, cleaning, mopping, doing laundry and all the other accompanying chores, you just take a quick glance at the wall clock in the sitting room, ‘it’s already past 2pm’. You suddenly realize you have been working since 8am after breakfast, and you are exhausted. You have done a lot already, you quickly round up and start preparing lunch.
What has been achieved?! You did all the chores, Yes. You numbed the pain?! Yes. But the pills you pop every day and are now getting used to, how safe is it for you?! Did you use it right?! Was it really necessary?!
This brings me back to my topic for the day. Before we proceed, let’s talk a little more about pain.
What is pain?!
Simply put- it is an unpleasant subjective feeling (meaning, only the person that has it, feels it), and it happens in response to a stimuli (something that ‘provokes’ or “stresses” another thing into action), which could be anything.
Pain can be moderate, mild or severe. Depending on what the sufferer feels. And the essence of a pain killer is that it relieves pain when administered at the right dose within a given time.
Broadly, analgesics can be classified into;
•Non-Opioid Analgesics: examples include Acetaminophen-TYLENOL or paracetamol (PANADOL) and NSAIDs e.g. Ibuprofen (ADVIL and NUROFEN), Piroxicam (FELVIN), Naproxen (RELEV), Diclofenac (CATAFLAM) (Non-selective COX inhibitors) and Celecoxib (CELEBREX).
•Opioid Analgesics e.g. Tramadol, Pentazocine, Codeine and Morphine which mediate their analgesia through opioid receptors.
•Adjuvants (Antidepressants and Antiepileptics) which originally were not licensed for use for this purpose (pain management) but clinical evidence have suggested that they as a matter of fact do relief pain
These analgesics, when used appropriately can give brilliant results and relieve pain considerably. SO IF IT IS NECESSARILY GIVEN TO YOU BY A PHYSICIAN OR PHARMACIST, PLEASE USE IT APPROPRIATELY.
But how can they be used safely or appropriately?!
These days the incidences of kidneys diseases in both the young and the old is alarmingly on the increase, and a lot of factors can be responsible ranging from; inadequate intake of water over time, prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals that damage the kidneys (every liquid ingested through the mouth somehow finds its way to the kidneys) to infections from inappropriately treated diseases etc. the list is endless. Some of these causes can be modified if not completely avoided. For example, most of the analgesics are gotten without a prescription from a doctor in Nigeria (as Over-the-counter meds, OTCs). Hence they are readily available. This availability has worsened the degree of abuse.
A MAJOR PROBLEM with analgesics (especially the NSAID analgesics- Ibuprofen (ADVIL and NUROFEN), Piroxicam (FELVIN), Naproxen (RELEV), Diclofenac (CATAFLAM) (Non-selective COX inhibitors) and Celecoxib (CELEBREX) is their ability to cause Kidney damage (NEPHROPATHY) with long term use. NSAID analgesics remain the biggest culprits for kidney damage with long term use. Another very big issue with this class of drugs is the fact that they can worsen an already existing stomach ulceration.
Another problem, with analgesics is DEPENDENCE AND ADDICTION- the biggest culprits here are the OPIOID ANALGESICS – Tramadol, Pentazocine, Codeine and Morphine.
You just want to keep taking more and more, because they give a “false sense of well-being”- EUPHORIA……this tends to lead to addiction and later on physical dependence. Meaning your body tends to crave for it. This could eventually lead to death or mental instability if not well handled.
Inappropriate use of these painkillers also has a negative effect on your body, in that over time, your pain receptors (nociceptors) become extra sensitive, meaning your body’s threshold or ability to bear pain is reduced drastically.
Back to my scenario, could you have avoided those pills?! The answer is yes!
How?! Well by trying to put yourself to sleep on your own. Did I just say sleep?! YES! SLEEP!
While sleeping our body releases “endorphins”– the body’s own natural painkillers or “feel good” endogenous substances, they are also released after periods of stress. These endorphins make us feel good and make our aching muscles heal faster. Allowing your body to heal takes a longer time for the pain to go away but the analgesia- degree of ‘pain-killing’ lasts longer, is safer and is more “refreshing”, than using the painkillers.
Taking all I have said into consideration, how can one use pain killers appropriately and safely?! Here are some tips;
1.Always ask for the name of any analgesics given; the dosage (how and when to take it); and for how many days you are to take it, this may help prevent irrational use of analgesics. Remember it is your right to know, and it is. a pharmacist’s job to tell you this. Most Pain killers are given based on degree of pain, Prescribers’ assessment of the pain, age of patient etc.
2.Always follow prescribed dosage instructions and always ask if you have been given the full course.
3.For pain killers ALONE, it is not always necessary to finish all the tablets given, but for the sake of uniformity, sometimes you are given more than you may eventually need especially if the pain is not severe. So if you feel better, you can call your pharmacist and ask if you can stop.
4.For those with a previous history of kidney issues, always remind the pharmacist or doctor while laying your complaints or explaining your symptoms. Also for those with stomach ulcers, it is paramount that you MUST tell your pharmacist before he gives you any pain killer.
5.Try NOT TO SHARE your prescribed analgesics with anyone including your Spouse or Children, especially while you are still on the medications. I know this is hard but as much as possible, try not to share. Except it is absolutely necessary.
6.What happens when I miss a dose?? This is Simple!! Take the dose as soon as you remember, BUT if it is close to when the next dose is to be taken, then ignore the missed dose and take the next dose and from then on, continue as before. Use of phone reminders can help prevent missing a dose. NEVER take double the dose when you miss a dose, to cover for missed dose.
7. Always remember to discard properly any expired or unneeded medications.
One may be quick to ask, “What is the place of natural remedies (plant-sourced)”!
Well, there are some things lying around the house (especially in the kitchen) that are natural pain relieving remedies. For those that think and believe that natural remedies work best because our body (being natural) would accept natural substances more, you can check the picture below for some of those items. Please use wisely and with moderation. Until next time, stay safe.
TRICK; A lot of those natural remedies are spices and vegetables, why not increase their quantities while buying them?! And hey, they are NATURAL. Thank me later.