Know potential risks before you take them
Before you take a pain reliever for conditions such as headache, sinusitis, muscle or joint pain, make sure you know about the potential side effects. The American Academy of Family Physicians says you should talk to your doctor about these potential risks of pain medications:
- Liver damage can occur in people who take large quantities of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), or in those who already have liver problems.
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding or upset stomach, can occur in people who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for long periods. NSAIDs include aspirin and ibuprofen.
- Kidney damage, if NSAIDs are used frequently for long periods.
- NSAIDs may interact with medicines that people take to combat high blood pressure. NSAIDs can also elevate blood pressure on their own.
- In rare cases, people can be allergic to pain medications.