It is normal to have a pain niggle once in a while. The pain could be as a result of a knock or accumulation of stress due to work or any other physical activity. More often than not, we rely on the use of over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. While these pain killers may have little or no side effects, certain factors can make them injurious to health in different degrees. You should consider these factors next time you are purchasing an OTC pain reliever for your pain.

Know the Different Types 

There are two (2) types of OTC pain reliever, namely acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Both types reduce fever and relieve pain, the only difference being the exclusive ability of NSAIDs to reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen and aspirin are common examples of NSAID While examples of acetaminophen are Tylenol, NyQuil, and DayQuil. Discuss with your physician to know which type is best for you.

Read the Label

It is always advised to read the label of products as all the needed information are usually there, Contents or ingredients and shelf life or expiry date are essential information that should be looked out for. In the case of pain relievers, it will be important to check for side effects and medical conditions that could be worsened with the use of it. Pain reliever with acetaminophen as content should be avoided if you are already treating a fever with acetaminophen to avoid an overdose.

Consider the Risk

When choosing pain reliever, it is necessary to consider the side effect and the potential risk that may cause you, for example, it is advisable to avoid a drug that may cause drowsiness especially if you are going to be driving or operating a machine later to avoid serious injury or even death.

Don’t Self Diagnose

Don’t assume your conditions just because of the symptoms you feel, even though we are all guilty of this, especially when the symptoms is déjà vu and same medications have worked. Always talk to your doctor even if you have felt the same symptoms severally.

Consult the Pharmacist

Even if you have discussed with your physician and he has given you a prescription, it won’t hurt anybody to add the opinion of the pharmacist on duty to that of your doctor.


Aspirin can cause a very rare but serious condition that affects the kidneys, liver, and brain known as Reye’s syndrome in children, and it is advised to opt for ibuprofen and acetaminophen when treating children. Adults over the age of 50 are advised to seek alternative treatments than pain relievers as they are most susceptible to the side effects.

 What You Ate

The food you ate or your next meal should be a point to consider when choosing pain reliever, certain foods like fried and processed foods are more difficult to break down and may increase inflammation counteracting the effects of the medication.

Don’t Drink

Most drugs, especially pain relievers, often come with a warning to avoid alcohol. Combining alcohol with medications can have fatal consequences. Always avoid drinking when you are using an OTC.

Do you have Blood Pressure Problems?

Some OTC can worsen blood pressure problem and cause blood pressure issues in someone that has not experienced such. Always discuss with your doctor to know which OTC is best for you. Are you on other Medications?

Always seek medical advice before using OTC if you are on medications for any other conditions, combining OTC with other medications may have serious adverse effects.

Consider your Kidney

A common effect of some NSAIDs is damage on the kidney. NSAID can cause kidney damage or worsen an existing kidney condition. It is advised to avoid NSAIDs if you have kidney issues and take small doses of it.

Consider your Liver Too

As with kidney, some OTC can worsen or cause liver-related conditions, take small doses of OTC to avoid risking these essential organs.

Do you have Cardiac Issues?

Long term use of NSAID can cause heart attack and even stroke. Seek alternative medication if you have heart disease or condition.

Your Stomach

NSAIDs can cause stomach diseases like ulcer and worsen an existing condition. Stay clear of NSAIDs if you have stomach problems and use a very little dose of it if you don’t.

Are you Pregnant?

Expecting mothers are advised to avoid the use of NSAIDs as it can have serious adverse effects on the unborn. Always talk to your doctor about the appropriate drug to use when pregnant.

Read and Heed all Warnings

All drugs come with warnings, it might be eating before use or even shaking it in some. Pay attention to all warnings and heed them all to avoid any adverse effect. This is also why it is best for you only to use pills based on a healthcare professional’s prescription and guidance. However, one may likely forget the doctor’s advice, so check out the attached details to cross check and confirm the necessary information.

Embrace natural alternatives

OTC could be harmless in small doses, and occasional usage, big doses, and regular use can cause serious health issues, some of these drugs could be addictive and may cause a more regular use and pose big health problems. Use natural means of pain relief when it is minor pain or minor headache and only seek medication when it is chronic pain. The are many natural ways of minor healing pain, some of them are as follows:

  • Cool the joints
  • Heat the joints
  • Sleep
  • Take a walk
  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture

Pain relievers are a fast, effective, and usually harmless way of treating pain. However, certain conditions and factors can trigger serious health issues when combined with pain relievers, and it is important to know these conditions and factors before buying an OTC. Natural ways of managing pain are suggested when the pain is mild, and medications should only be used when dealing with chronic pain.