There’s A Reason NSAIDs Are Designed For Short-Term Use.
Is anything good in excess? Sure, you can make the argument that excess has its place in things like love, art, and sports. But for everything else – especially when it comes to medicine – excess usually ends up causing more harm than help.
There’s been a whirlwind of discussion recently about one of the most widely-used NSAID painkillers – ibuprofen – and its potential effects on everything from heart attack risk to hormone levels and male fertility. This comes after repeated studies have shown that ibuprofen can cause a bevy of digestive problems as well as medical problems for pregnant women and their babies, including doubling of the risk of miscarriage.
What’s more, these aren’t just concerns for chronic users; the authors of the studies found that it took as little as two weeks of daily ibuprofen use to see these effects.
In the latest research, published in the BMJ, scientists looked at the impact of ibuprofen use on the risk of heart attack for 446,000 individuals. The results showed a 20 to 50 percent increase in risk of a heart attack for those who took 1200mg or more of ibuprofen per day compared with those who didn’t use NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
In another study, researchers found ibuprofen use for six weeks or more in healthy men significantly disrupted their production of sex hormones. The result was a greater risk of fertility issues as well as muscle loss, erectile dysfunction and fatigue. The scientists who led the study said that while the disorder was temporary in the volunteers, they feared it could become permanent in long-term ibuprofen users.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs work great to reduce pain and minimize inflammation, but too often they’re used without thinking of them as actual medicine. For example, last year FIFA’s chief medical officer warned of an alarming trend among soccer players abusing NSAIDs like ibuprofen. He noted that in a survey about their use of over-the-counter painkillers, nearly half of professional soccer players reported that they took ibuprofen every single day.
The Bottom Line
Like everything else in life, to stay healthy take all things in moderation. There’s little risk in taking ibuprofen to alleviate pain in the short term, but there’s good reason to be cautious about using it for extended periods. Take it sparingly, only when you need it, and make sure you’re also taking care of what’s causing the problem in the first place. Remember, our body uses pain as a signal for us to pay attention and take action, not to just cover it up.
At Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, we utilize hands-on spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, postural strengthening exercises and active rehabilitation to improve function and correct the cause of your pain. And if we can’t help, we’ll sort out whether you should be in the care of a physical therapist or medical doctor and refer you appropriately. Ready to get rid of pain and activate your health naturally? Make an appointment by calling us at 262-345-4166 or via our online scheduling app.
Kristensen DM, et al. Ibuprofen alters human testicular physiology to produce a state of compensated hypogonadism. PNAS 2018 January: 115(4) E715-E724.
Wise, J. Diclofenac and ibuprofen are associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest. BMJ 2017; 356.