Pain Killers – The OTC Medication Conundrum – Oh What A Pain

Pain Pills Medication OverdosePain Killers OTC Medication Overdose

Pain Killers – The OTC Medication Conundrum – Oh What A Pain

Pain Killers and OTC Medications, we all take them, right?I sure do! As someone with a chronic illness, that’s just a 2 week supply in that photo up there. That’s a ton of pills. 4 of those bottles are pain killers! This has been my daily cocktail since 1/95. I was a passenger in a car and lost a fight with a windshield after said car slammed head on into oncoming traffic. I received a spinal cord injury. Among a host of other big words that basically equate to ‘broken’ and ‘painful’. I wrote in detail about that over. here. Does This Wheelchair Make My Butt Look Fat? Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait. Prior to that were the migraines. Oh My Oh My Mylanta! Those are some killers, huh? I would quite literally grab handfuls of pain killers and swallow them like candy. (Tic Tacs?) Then when we toss in those Gawd-Awful Kidney Stones (remember that fun post??) you can see that I’m quite the pill popper these days. It’s not a bad thing, right? I mean, they are all prescribed and OTC pain killers. Surly that’s totally legit and not harmful. Right? Right??!!

Pain Killers Chronic Illness Service Dogs OTC Medications

Pain Killers – The OTC Medication Conundrum

But when does taking pain killers for so many reasons on such a regular basis become bad? Wrong? Harmful even? Well, one day in January this year I waltzed into (rolled actually, I roll on my wheels) the pharmacy to grab my monthly refills as I’d been doing for years. Same meds, same pharmacy, nothing out of the ordinary. Imagine my surprise when they said they could no longer refill 1 of them! The acetaminophen level included in with the narcotics was now ‘too high’ to be deemed ‘safe’. What the what?? The acetaminophen is too much?? But that’s just …  Tylenol®. Aren’t the actual narcotics what’s typically thought of as the bad news buzz word? Why the fuss? I was seriously confused. They explained that pain killers can be found in more that 500 prescription and OTC medications. Yep, like our good friend Tylenol®, cold and flu meds (IE Nyquil®) and also in prescription medications like Percocet®, Vicodin® and the like. The max dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg a day. So my prescribed meds alone already exceeded that. Add to it all the OTC medications I was also taking, Rut Roh….

Pain Killers OTC Medications Overdose Dangers

Too Many Pain Killers – What A Pain

Ok, now see this photo made a light bulb go off in my head!! I have a peptic ulcer!! Dr’s have told me it’s caused by everything from stress to too many spicy foods I make for my recipes. Could be, I suppose. Or, what if it’s actually from all those pain killers and the maxed out acetaminophen levels? I did some reading up on it over at the AGA Gut Check Campaign Website and learned quite a bit of things that had never occurred to me as well. Did you know every year there are 26,000 hospitalizations and 458 deaths from acetaminophen-related overdoses. Over dose from common everyday OTC pain killers! Let’s not forget all the GI bleeds (like mine) and  even liver damage from overdosing and taking too many over a prolonged time. Pain killers cause an estimated 17,000 deaths every year from this. I wasn’t aware of the damage I was doing to my liver! Like I need that on top of everything else I have going on. It’s irreversible damage. Meaning, just because you stop taking too much, or any for that matter, the damage is done my friends. It’s compared to alcohol abuse type damage! I HAD NO CLUE!

Ok, so what have we learned? We all have our issues and take pain meds, totally cool. But, pain killers and OTC medications should be taken seriously and not written off as ‘safe’ simply because you don’t need a prescription. Read your labels! If you’re taking more than 1 type of medication, and they both contain acetaminophen and/or NSAIDS, be sure you’re not going over the recommended daily dosage. Better yet, try to find 1 medication for that fever and 1 strictly for that nagging cough that doesn’t have an added pain med component.

Do me a favor, yes? Check out the Gut Check website and be sure you’re treating that pain without causing yourself a whole ‘nutter kind of pain! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Just a little PSA from me to you. Gotta keep me and my peeps happy and healthy!

Do you have the pain killers conundrum going on? Did you even think to check?


  1. I try to remember that every single medication, whether OTC or prescription, has tons of side effects. Definitely pays to read the small print on the packages!

  2. Please stay healthy my love…

  3. We SO need to talk…I ran into this issue about 2 years ago or so (the gut thing)? Hard to remember…and when my emergency gall bladder surgery took place (in 2012), they had to deal with liver bleeding that they couldn’t control. Discovered my liver enzymes were high and I’ve been off acetaminophen since. However, they only thing that touches my migraines is Excedrin Migraine, which has that AND aspirin. I’m screwed.

  4. It doesn’t take long for high doses of OTC pain killers to cause those tummy issues. I’m learning more about essential oils to help minimize my usage of medications with all their lovely side effects. Hoping your able to see those issues disappear with less medication in your system.

  5. I know exactly what you are talking about. Pain meds in general can really f@k up all kinds of things in the body especially the liver. Geez I remember going through my own personal experience about fifteen years ago and believe me those little pills can do some serious damage. Just like you were talking about above. They have a good side though if you treat them will a lot of respect. Good to meet you on here. I would love to talk to you when you get a chance.

  6. Pain in a pain, isn’t it? Yay, I’ve opened up my eyes a bit to this – surprised the heck out of me too!! Let’s all read labels and stay safe!

  7. Many of those OTC medications were also prescription at some point. All medications are potentially dangerous to your body. You really have to be careful what you take.

    I work for a pharmacy and we actually do not recommend more than 3,000mg of Tylenol/daily. I heard the FDA was lowering it from 4,000 to 3,000, but I am not sure if they did that yet. We implemented it as a policy about 6-7 months ago since it was going to change. We also had to deal with the hassle of them no longer making Hydrocodone/ Oxycodone with more than 325mg of Tylenol in each tablet. I am happy for that change though because a lot of people (like you) take too much without realizing it. Doctors need to be more careful about tracking ALL of patients meds including otc’s. I hope you are able to adapt well with less tylenol. Good luck!

  8. I read this post and your Does This Wheelchair Make My Butt Look Fat post. Enjoyed them both! I’m not in a wheelchair, but I do have disabilities – disabilities that aren’t visible. which makes me a target for all kinds of abuse, interest, and those loaded questions, when I’m out with my Service Dog, Gabe.

    Taking any medication is a crap shoot for me. I’m one of those people who either gets all the adverse side effects, gets a double whammy of the intended result, or gets absolutely no result whatsoever.

    When I was placed on Lyrica, I thought – Thank You Lord, I’m finally gonna get some relief. NOT. I gained 40 lbs., my and hands swelled up to twice their normal size (which sadly is way bigger than what they should be) I itched all over, and couldn’t put a cohesive thought together. This went on for months and months. My husband was ready to discuss the possibility of psychiatric care with my GP,,,until one evening when a Lyrica commercial came on. BAM – the light bulb came on. Off the Lyrica I went, and within a couple of weeks, I was back to my old self

    I can take a Benadryl and sleep for 2 days.

    Those much needed antibiotics – cause we all know that if I get bit my anything, have surgery or just look in the wrong direction, I’m going to get a whopping infection – make me sicker than the infection does!

    As for pain meds – I need them often (like all the time), but take them as seldom as possible, because I’m so afraid that I will build up a tolerance to them and then when I REALLY need to take them, they won’t be effective.

    Ronni – life sucks and then ya die, but I swear, I’m gonna squeeze out every bit of life I can before I croak!

    • Grandma Juice says

      That Lyrica is A W F U L!! They gave me that hoping it would help some with the nerve pain. Made me a zombie and a big ole depression commercial. I literally laid on the couch drooling… Which is funny (not) because they also give it to people to treat… depression!! I could have starred in 1 of those commercials!! I can’t imagine what depressed people become seeking help from that! Blech. I quit taking it after a month. We’re a lot alike in the side effects dept it seems. I either get that double whammy, sick(er) or nada. I was so upset when they had to change my ‘cocktail’ b/c after a gazillion years it was a combo that left me functional, in a ‘I can handle it’ kind of pain and not zombie like. Although, apparently, I was tearing my stomach up and the whole blood puking thing finally made sense…

      Life does suck, then ya die. And like you, I’m just trying to wing my way to the end with as ‘life’ between then and now 😉
      Hang on and hang in…

  9. Oh my god, I’m so fear for my mom’s life, because she had take so many of them because of her immune system so used to them, is that the issue, that she can not drink coffee anymore because it bothers her stomach? If so please let me know thank you. So I can tell her what’s going on with her stomach.