3 Shocking side effects of OTC pain pills

By: Health Local Staff Nov 11, 2013
Shocking side effects of OTC pain pills

Recent studies reveal that even the most common over-the-counter pain relievers can cause scary side effects.

The next time you reach for an over-the-counter pain pill to relieve symptoms of a pulled muscle, be aware of the shocking side effects. Recent studies reveal that even the most common OTC pain relievers have scary side effects. It is important to stay informed and always check with your doctor before popping any pills.

Be sure to watch for these side effects:


One of the most shocking side effects comes from a common over-the-counter drug known as acetaminophen. Some of the leading pain relieving brands contain acetaminophen, so it is important to read the labels.

Acetaminophen has been shown, in clinical trials, to cause severe damage to the liver, especially if overused. Recent studies show that some of the previously determined quantities are no longer safe. Read the label and pay attention to the correct dosages.

As with all pain medication, mixing acetaminophen with alcoholic drinks can be a recipe for disaster. Even if mixing the pills with two or three cocktails can cause damage to the liver.


Many athletes, including runners, take ibuprofen prior to working out to prevent aches and pains. A recent study found that marathon runners who took ibuprofen before a race were at a high risk for heart problems, as well as other conditions like rental complications and gastrointestinal (GI) cramping. Ibuprofen actually does more harm than good if taken before strenuous activities.

Overuse of ibuprofen can lead to long-term health problems. Studies show that severe kidney damage may occur if ibuprofen is taken in larger quantities than listed on the bottle. If the back of the label reads that you should take one or two pills, and you choose to take three, you are putting your health at risk.

Mixing ibuprofen with alcohol does not relax the body, as many believe, but actually leads to GI cramping and dehydration. It is best to leave the alcohol aside when taking any pain reliever.

Menthol Muscle Creams

Pain relieving muscle and joint soothing creams that contain menthol or a combination of methyl salicylate have been recently in the news for causing unsightly chemical burns or blisters. These creams are designed to heat up the skin
and provide relief from sore muscles or achy joints. The menthol in the cream can cause irritation to the skin that results in blistering or burning, even after just one use.

Patients who showed up at the emergency rooms across the country with chemical burns from muscle creams, often used them in combination with a heating pad. The immense heat led to the development of severely burned skin and blisters.

To avoid side effects from muscle creams containing menthol, apply a very small amount to the skin and wait a few minutes to see how you react. This will help you avoid pain and discomfort if a reaction takes place.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.