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, new research suggests you might want to think twice about what you are grabbing.

One 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 of 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. Thank you for writing this topic. I’m the girl who wrote to you about what happened to me from using ibuprofen. I got a purferated ulcer, a quarter size whole in my stomach, emergency surgery. I almost died.

  2. I was taking motrin 600mg 3x a day for severe arthritis for years and now I developed what I thought was a regular bilateral eye infection. Saw my MD and got antibiotic eye drops. After several days I knew they were not helping. Saw my Eye MD and she found retinal bleeds.
    I was given steroid eye drops and I’m much better. So now am scheduled to see a Retina Specialist. I don’t know yet if it was from the Motrin but I have no other medical conditions that could of caused this nor do I take any other type of blood thinners or ASA.

  3. So what is the alternative. I have the big three in the medicine cabinet and I move back and forth on which one I take when needed. My doc said Tylenol was ok but he doesn’t recommend Advil or ibuprofen.

  4. Antonietta Dimperio February 25, 2017 at 7:04 am · Reply

    I just read your article I use Advil mostly for my aches an pain. I have acid reflux and now I am wondering if
    It’s due to Advil that I can’t get rid of this even though I changed my diet! Advil is the only one that works for me .
    But I only take it when the pain is intense. Tylenol does not work for me at all. What should I do now ?

  5. Aspirin is the only thing I will take. I’ve had no issues at all and I’m 59yo. The other meds make me sick to my stomach.

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.