The Dangers of the Most Common Painkillers

What are Painkillers?



Painkillers refer to a wide array of medications, including over-the-counter drugs. The common element of all the medications is the reduction of pain, though the specific ingredients and the impact on the body can vary.

Although painkillers are a common medication to handle discomfort that ranges from generalized headaches to severe pain after an injury, all of the medications have certain risks and dangers that are associated with taking the drugs.

Overdose Risk

A major danger that is associated with any painkiller, including the over-the-counter drugs, is the risk of overdosing. Although the term is often associated with illegal or prescription medications, it is possible to take too much over-the-counter pain medication and face danger.

The symptoms of an overdose on painkillers include:

  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Death

painkiller overdose risk

Risk of painkiller overdose

While symptoms include a wide range of different problems, any painkiller can have dangerous effects on the body and mind. The specific dangers will depend on the drug and the dosage that was taken.

Overdosing on a painkiller is only possible when the medication is taken in large enough doses to cause damage. While each individual will have different reactions to the medication, taking the medication as directed on the bottle or by a medical doctor will reduce the risk of taking too much.

Whenever symptoms of an overdose occur, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can help reduce the risk of a death or serious medical challenges.


Developing a Dependency

Developing an addiction

to painkillers is a risk that every individual takes when the medication is used. Even though prescription pain relievers have a higher chance of developing an addiction, it is possible to face dependence or challenges associated with over-the-counter medications when it is used daily.

Chemical dependency

is a challenge that doctors face when patients are struggling with severe physical pain and discomfort. Accidentally becoming addicted to the drug is a growing problem as individuals take medications to fight pain from accidents, injuries or physical discomfort from age-related illnesses.


chemical dependency

Prescription painkillers can cause chemical dependency.

Due to the risk of developing an addiction to pain relievers, doctors take measures to reduce the risk by slowly reducing the dosage after a patient heals from an injury.

When a chemical dependence develops after a medication was provided for legitimate medical reasons, it is best to seek professional help to overcome the challenge before it can become a severe addiction.

Chemical dependency is often the first step onto the path of addiction. When a doctor prescribes an opioid medication, it is best to discuss any concerns about developing a dependency or addiction to the drug so a doctor can take measures to reduce the risk.

Heart Attacks

Heart health is a concern for many men and women throughout the country.

Even if the heart is healthy, certain types of pain relievers are known to increase the risk of developing heart conditions or facing a heart attack.


painkillers increase risk of heart attack

Heart attack risk is increased when using painkillers.

The risk of a heart attack increases when certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are used on a regular basis. Although the medications are over-the-counter drugs that are available in many grocery stores and pharmacies, it is possible to face heart problems that develop as a direct result of the drug.

The risks to the heart vary based on the particular medications. Certain NSAIDs have a higher risk of heart attacks than others, but many of those medications were removed from the market due to the evidence of health risks.

Although heart health concerns have become a concern, the risk is variable based on the medication and certain pain relievers do not have a high risk of heart attacks. The risk is also directly related to the amount of medication used, so occasional use of the medication will not have as high a risk as regular use of the drugs.

Interactions With Other Medications

Taking any new medication requires some consideration for possible interactions with other medications that are already being taken for health. Pain relievers can interact with some drugs or with herbal remedies if measures are not taken to reduce the risk.
A drug interaction is a serious problem because it can lead to severe health issues. Although the interactions will depend on the particular medications, it can cancel out the impact on the body or cause unexpected reactions.


The possible problems that an interaction might cause include:

  • Shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Death

mixing meds

Mixing medicines is life threatening.

Depending on the medications and the other dietary concerns, the exact impact and risk will vary. Before taking any medication that is prescribed by a doctor, patients should inform a doctor about other drugs or herbal remedies that are used. Even a herb used for good health can cause a serious reaction when it mixes with the wrong medication.

Drug interactions can occur with over-the-counter and prescription medications, so patients should always ask questions about the possible interactions before taking a new medication with over-the-counter pain relievers. It is better to ask questions than the face the possibility of a dangerous interaction when alternative pain relievers might not have the same impact.

Side Effects

The side effects are often overlooked when it relates to pain relievers, but they are a serious concern for some individuals. In many cases, the side effects of an over-the-counter medication are mild.



Prescription pain relievers will usually have harsher side effects and can cause serious discomfort. Regardless of the pain reliever, it is possible to face uncomfortable and dangerous side effects. Depending on the particular medication, the severity or the impact on an individual will vary.


Common side effects that might occur include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Allergic reactions

The side effects will depend on the individual. To avoid side effects that are related to known allergies, patients should always discuss allergies with a medical professional before taking a new prescription pain reliever. It is also wise to read the ingredients in an over-the-counter medication to avoid any medications that have ingredients that are known to cause allergic reactions.

Even over-the-counter medications will have side effects. The intensity and particular impact will depend on the drug and personal body, but every individual should expect some discomfort from side effects after taking any medication. The labels or dosage instructions will provide a list of possible side effects that are common to the specific medication and the side effects that are most dangerous.

No Painkillers are Really “Safe”

painkillers are not safe

No painkiller is without risk

Taking any medication means that an individual is taking certain risks. Although the specific dangers will depend on the drug and the dosage, it is a fact that every pain reliever is potentially dangerous.

The key is taking the time to learn about the specific medication and then taking measures to reduce the risks that are associated with the drug.

Even the over-the-counter drugs that are used for small discomforts or unexpected small pains can have a dangerous impact on the body.

Before taking any new medication or using an over-the-counter medication, it is a wise decision to speak with a medical professional about the risks, especially if other medications might interact with the drugs.