Do you regularly take ibuprofen? Beware of these risks

Do you regularly take ibuprofen? Beware of these risks

Strained back, headaches, menstrual cramps? All these pains may cause you to reach inside the medicine cabinet for an over-the-counter pain reliever. And while the common assumption is that these drugs are relatively safe since they don’t require a doctor’s prescription, recent research suggests you might want to think twice about what you are grabbing.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, found that regular use of pain relievers like ibuprofen and Tylenol were associated with a higher risk of hearing loss in women.

The study, conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, included 55,850 women who reported the frequency of their use of pain relievers and self-reported hearing loss issues over an extended period of time. Participants in the study responded to questions about medication use every two years beginning in 1990 and ending in 2012.

The researchers found that women who reported regular NSAID (ibuprofen, Advil, etc.) use and women who reported regular acetaminophen (Tylenol) use were at a higher risk for hearing loss than those who reported using the pain relievers less than twice a week. Interestingly, the regular use of aspirin was not associated with hearing loss.

“I worry that people think NSAIDs and acetaminophen are completely safe, and that they don’t need to think about their potential [side effects],” lead author of the study, Dr. Gary Curhan, told TIME.

While regular use of pain killers was only associated with a higher risk of hearing loss, when it comes to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, there are other risks.

“NSAIDs can harm the gastrointestinal system and cause symptoms of upset stomach with even short-term use,” says Dr. Daniel Cunningham, family medicine resident at the Family Health Clinic at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Long-term use of NSAIDS can lead to the development of stomach ulcers and bleeding.”

Dr. Cunningham recommends consulting with your physician prior to choosing an NSAID medication or other pain reliever so you can appropriately weigh the benefits and risks.

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  1. Read this!

  2. What constitutes “regular use”, please ?

  3. What are alternatives when you need pain medication?

    • Lynn Hutley

      In this particular study, aspirin use was not associated with hearing loss. However, all medications carry risks and side effects. It is best to consult with your physician about what pain relievers might work best for you.

  4. Good information to have! I think most people, myself included, associate excessive use of ibuprofen and acetaminophen with stomach or kidney issues. I will definitely be more careful with ibuprofen.

  5. please read

  6. Hello, I used to be a regular daily basis NSAIDs user, until I ended up in the emergency room with a perforated ulcer and 15 minutes to live! Ibuprofen ate a quarter size hole in my stomach, and almost killed me. I also shunned the warnings of NSAIDs. I’m now waiting to have my 2nd massive surgery on my stomach because of NSAIDs and I’m only 37 years old. I am also losing my hearing, I’m not sure if that is connected to my use of NSAIDs and Tylenol. But I wear hearing aids to. I just wanted to say please be careful using these over the counter drugs! Thank you.

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.