Oftentimes, however, this pain solution comes at a steep price, as side effects are more the rule than the exception when it comes to taking these powerful drugs.
Among men, in particular, painkillers can pose unique risks that many men are unaware of. If you’re taking prescription opioids (morphine, codeine, etc.), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Celebrex), or even over-the-counter products like Tylenol, there are some very important painkiller side effects you should watch out for.
8 Painkiller Side Effects Every Man Should Know
8. Erectile Dysfunction
Men who take prescription opioid painkillers are 50 percent more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those who do not, and the risk is the highest for men who take such medications for an extended period of time.[i]
7. Low Testosterone Levels
Men who take long-acting opioids, which are designed to release the pain medication slowly and are taken every eight to 12 hours, are five times more likely to have low testosterone levels than men taking short-acting opioids.[ii] Low testosterone levels in men are linked to diminished quality of life as well as decreases in muscle mass, bone density, cognitive abilities, mood and libido.
6. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, a disorder that’s already more common in men than in women, is further increased among people who take opioid pain medications. An alarming 75 percent of chronic pain patients taking such drugs suffered from sleep apnea in one study, compared to a rate in the general population of well under 5 percent.[iii]
5. Liver Failure
If you take too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) — which is extremely easy to do if you take multiple over-the-counter medications, for instance one for pain relief and one to relieve cough/cold or fever symptoms (even some sleep aids contain acetaminophen), or if you take an extra dose in a 24-hour period – you could suffer from fatal liver damage.
Sandra Kweder, M.D., deputy director of FDA’s Office of New Drugs, said:[iv]
“Overdoses from prescription products containing acetaminophen account for nearly half of all cases of acetaminophen-related liver failure in the U.S., many of which result in liver transplant or death … The risk of liver injury primarily occurs when patients take multiple products containing acetaminophen at one time and exceed the current maximum dose of 4,000 milligrams within a 24-hour period.”
4. Gastrointestinal Bleeding
NSAIDs, including even over-the-counter options like aspirin, are notorious for being hard on your gastrointestinal tract, leading to potentially fatal side effects such as bleeding in your digestive tract, ulcers and perforation of your stomach or intestines.
3. Heart Risks
All prescription NSAIDs, including Celebrex, ibuprofen and naproxen, can increase your risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke. Celebrex, in particular, has been found to pose unacceptably high heart attack risks. Researchers noted “an increase in risk by a factor of two or three” for myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, or cardiovascular-related death among people taking Celebrex, compared to placebo.[v]
Opioid painkillers stimulate pleasure-perceiving areas in your brain, leading to an initial rush of euphoria that some people find impossible to resist. Soon larger doses are needed to feel the rush again, and continued doses are needed to stave off the inevitable withdrawal symptoms that creep in when the drug is no longer taken. Along with developing physical dependence on the drugs, some people also become quickly addicted.
1. Death from Overdosing
More men die from drug overdoses than women, and three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. Prescription drug overdoses now cause more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined,[vi] and their numbers are on the rise. It only takes one larger doses of prescription painkillers to slow down breathing to the point that it stops altogether, resulting in a fatal overdose.
Stop: There is a Better Way to Relieve Your Pain
The question is, more aptly, why wouldn’t you?
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That means you’ll feel quick pain relief in the short-term … and permanent healing in the long-term, without the side effects common to prescription opioids and NSAIDs!
[iv] U.S. Food and Drug Administration, New Steps Aimed at Cutting Risks from Acetaminophen