Are your painkillers making you sick?

When you have a headache, what do you do? You probably take an over-the-counter painkiller such as Advil without a second thought just so you can go through your day and finish what needs to be done.

You are not alone. Most people have become so used to the convenience of popping a pill that they discard the accompanying instructions warning them of the dangers of taking these painkillers without even reading them.

Some medicines warn about serious adverse reactions, even the OTC ones.

They say, “ignorance is bliss”, well, not in this case. The lack of knowledge of these side effects and contraindications can be deadly.

The inconvenient truth about painkillers

Painkillers, also known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), only temporarily mask pain.

The pain or fever that you feel is your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong. You need to give your body a fighting chance to heal itself and recover.

If you keep taking pills at the first sign of pain, you may be interfering with your body’s signals and its natural defense mechanism.

Picture of different painkillers for article about their side effects and how they can make you sick

Painkiller side effects

Bleeding ulcers

Did you know that one of the most common side effects of taking painkillers on a regular basis are ulcers?

Gastrointestinal bleeding is a serious condition and some people even die from it.

NSAIDS can pierce the lining that protects the stomach from the acids the body produces to break down food. When the acid enters, you get ulcers or sores that bleed.

Taking a pill can relieve you of your pain, but it is a double-edged sword because it can also increase your risk for illness in the other parts of your body. If you use it for a long time your body can develop inflammation, which in turn causes autoimmune diseases.

Leaky gut syndrome and the link to allergies

Aside from the stomach, NSAIDS can also damage the small intestines.

Normally, the intestinal wall allows only tiny amino acids to pass through it, but as a person takes more and more NSAIDS, the wall becomes more porous, allowing larger molecules to pass through the blood and lymph before they are broken down into smaller molecules.

The immune system then sees these large molecules as a threat and starts attacking them. This can also start the development of allergies.

Some people only develop allergies in their adult life. It might seem a mystery to them how they suddenly developed an allergy to say, sweet potatoes when all their life they have been enjoying it in its many forms.

If you are one of these people who have suddenly developed an allergy to a food that you have been eating all your life, check your lifestyle. You might be taking too much medication that is making your digestive system weak.

Many years ago, doctors did not believe in leaky gut syndrome being the cause of so many diseases but today, more and more research shows the connection.

Doctors who take a more holistic approach to their practice agree that a lot of problems begin in the gut and it is, therefore, best to treat it and strengthen it. That is why they prescribe less painkillers and offer alternative ways to combat pain.

High-risk patients

Patients with chronic pain are prescribed NSAIDS to make them more comfortable, but new research suggests that they can do more harm than good in the long run.

Aside from digestive problems, patients with arthritis who regularly take painkillers are more at risk for joint deterioration.

Patients over the age of 50 are also at risk for hypertension, heart and kidney problems if they take too many painkillers. It is also good to note that aspirin is an NSAID and most doctors prescribe patients to take low doses of it to protect their hearts, but it may cause heart problems in the long run.

Athletes are also at high risk for ulcers as they are prone to injuries and tend to take more painkillers. Some athletes are very much dedicated to their sport, and they ignore the underlying problem and take high doses of painkillers in order to perform.

Relieving pain, the natural way

Painkillers are not all bad. You can take them for short-term pain but never go over a week. Also, always take it on a full stomach. If you have arthritis, fibromyalgia or another chronic disease, it is better to take a more holistic approach.

First, look at your lifestyle and diet. Do you have too much stress in your life? Stress is also a major cause of most illnesses. Patients who have chronic pain are advised to take a vacation and just relax. If you experience migraines on a regular basis, it might be time to go on a vacation. Take a week off from work and stress and allow your mind and body to recuperate.

Are you eating too much red meat? Meat causes inflammation in the body and that causes pain. Other foods that cause inflammation are sugar, vegetable oil, dairy, artificial additives, processed meats, too much alcohol and fast food. If your diet has these foods regularly, it’s time for a diet overhaul.

Many people have discovered that eliminating dairy and gluten from their diet got rid of their chronic aches and pains. Most of them have also reported experiencing an energy boost.

Eat foods that are anti-inflammatory, including those that have high Omega-3 fatty acids. You can find this in flax, chia, wild-caught fish, pastured eggs and organic grass-fed meats.

Massage is also beneficial to patients who have fibromyalgia, back pain, and tension headaches. At the Mayo Clinic, they encourage postoperative patients to get a massage to help with pain and anxiety reduction. Massage boosts endorphin and serotonin levels and reduces stress hormone levels.

People who have chronic pain should also include a lot of rest in their schedules. For fibromyalgia patients, pain is a signal to stop and get some rest.

Everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but hydration is especially important to people who are taking NSAIDS. Ask your doctor how much water you should take with your medicine. Taking painkillers without the appropriate amount of liquid can increase your chances of getting an ulcer.

Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong have been practiced by many people for centuries. They have tremendous benefits for both the mind and body. They are especially helpful with pain management.

Essential oils can also help with pain relief, and can be used to ease the symptoms of conditions such as neuropathy, fibromyalgia and arthritis.


Before taking any medication, be sure to read the side effects, contraindications and allergy information. Take the medicine as your doctor prescribed and stop using it immediately if you feel any adverse effects and go back for a check-up.

All people experience pain, but you should not be a slave to painkillers and their side effects. Read the warnings before taking any painkillers or just incorporate these natural pain relievers into your lifestyle to avoid pain and stress.


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