Don’t drink and drive, and don’t combine over the counter drugs.

The most commonly used non-prescription drugs that are combined without knowledge are the NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Antiinflamatory Drugs). These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and many other common pain relief drugs. There is growing knowledge that these drugs can cause dangerous side effects, but doctors continue to recommend them freely.

Unfortunately, we often take these products when we have colds or allergies. Along with them, we take other over the counter things like cough and allergy medication. Many of them, too, contain NSAIDs. Since the risk of side effects, along with their severity, increases with higher doses, we add to our potential problems when we combine amounts unwittingly. Taking two NSAID capsules (any recommended dosage) might be all right. Adding the NSAIDs in an accompanying cold remedy might cause a lot of trouble.

Inflammation, pain, and fever, are our body’s natural warning signals. They cause us to produce a more than normal amount of our body’s natural protectors to rush to the site of the problem. Covering up isn’t the same as curing. It can slow the actual healing process.

NSAIDs block the development of Cyclooxygenase (Cox enzymes). They produce inflammation, pain, and fever. They also produce platelets that help blood clotting, and they protect the lining of the stomach from acid. Bleeding ulcers are one of the many possible side effects of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory drugs. Many people have no idea that they have ulcers until there’s a major problem.

All NSAIDs aren’t equal. Ask your doctor about the differences if you plan to take them. The longer you take them, and the higher the dosage, the more chance there is for side effects. Aspirin, for instance, is the only one that has long-term blood thinning effects. It can last from four to seven days, as compared to the usual several hours. The possible thin blood has to be taken into account with surgery. Always take them with or after a meal or a glass of milk, unless directed otherwise.

Common side effects are bleeding, ulcers, reduction of blood flow to the kidneys (with its numerous potential problems), and the inhibition of the forming of blood clots. People with hypertension may also suffer an increase in blood pressure.

Other side effects, particularly in people over sixty-five, are indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, feeling sick or vomiting. Less common side effects are ankle swelling, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, or unusual bruising or bleeding.

There are plenty of herbal remedies that we can use without such drastic side effects, but most of us in today’s world are going to continue to use NSAIDs. This is fine. There are some wonderful benefits from them, but don’t forget that there are also many drawbacks. Use them as sparingly and rarely as possible. Keep alert for possible combinations of medications that will raise the dosage you think you’re taking. If you need long-term help, look into alternatives. Some alternatives might take longer to take effect, but they’ll work on the actual curing of the trouble, rather than just covering the symptoms. Ignorance, sadly, isn’t always bliss.