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Over-the-Counter Pains Meds are Not for Long-Term Use!

When you have a headache, a cold, or an aching back, you’re likely to head out to the pharmacist and pick up some pain meds—maybe some aspirin or ibuprofen. These meds fall into the category of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

NSAIDs can be beneficial--aspirin, for instance, helps prevent heart attacks. On the other hand, a mountain of evidence shows that these medications are not for long-term use. People commonly mistake these drugs to be safer than they are because they can be purchased off shelves. If a doctor or other clinician has prescribed long-term use of these drugs (for instance to prevent heart attack or stroke), he or she has already weighed the risks and benefits. Continue to follow your prescriber’s instructions. If, however, you are self-medicating to control chronic discomfort, read on.

Long-term use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain meds has been connected with a host of unpleasant risks. One study found that women who consumed NSAIDs such as aspirin twice per day / six times per week increased their chance of hearing loss 8% to 24%.1 Another study also demonstrated that men regularly using ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin increase their risk of hearing loss up to 99%.2 Long-term use of NSAIDs is also connected with gastrointestinal bleeding and colorectal cancer.3,4,5  That’s not all. Ongoing use of NSAIDS is connected with renal failure, other renal dysfunction, increased risk of stroke when used incorrectly, aseptic meningitis, psychosis, and cognitive dysfunction.5

If it is joint, muscle, or tendon pain that has you reaching for the medicine cabinet on a regular basis, there is a healthier approach. Give Advanced Physiotherapy a call at (02) 4954 5330.



  1. Curhan S, Shargorodsky J, Eavey R, et al. Analgesic use and the risk of hearing loss in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2012; 176 (6): 544-554.
  2. Curhan S, Eavey R, Shargorodsky J, et a. Analgesic use and the risk of hearing loss in men. Am J Med. 2010; 123 (3): 231-237.
  3. Huang ES, Strate LL, Ho WW, Lee SS, Chan AT. Long-term use of aspirin and the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Am J Med. 2011 May;124(5):426-33. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.12.022. PMID: 21531232; PMCID: PMC3086018.
  4. Chan AT, Giovannucci EL, Meyerhardt JA, Schernhammer ES, Curhan GC, Fuchs CS. Long-term use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of colorectal cancer. JAMA. 2005 Aug 24;294(8):914-23. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.8.914. PMID: 16118381; PMCID: PMC1550973.
  5. Marcum ZA, Hanlon JT. Recognizing the Risks of Chronic Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in Older Adults. Ann Longterm Care. 2010;18(9):24-27. PMID: 21857795; PMCID: PMC3158445.

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