Long term health effects of taking over-the-counter drugs

    Amarillo doctor discusses impact of over-the-counter medications on your body. (ABC 7 Amarillo-Tiffany Lester)<p>{/p}

    It has been a rough cold and flu season for the start of 2019. Options to recover include going to the doctor or reaching in the medicine cabinet at home for over-the-counter remedies. Yet, those drugs could impact your health long term.

    “It’s been more of upper respiratory like allergy type stuff, cough, sneezing, running noses ,” said Amarillo resident Shannon Emeyabbi.

    “We’ve had a bad flu season,” said Dr. Whit Walker. “I tried to admit someone to the hospital ten days ago, and both Northwest and BSA were on divert.”

    Walker is a doctor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Friday afternoon, he took a look and some popular medication options often found in our homes. He told ABC 7 News acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, can decrease fever and help you to feel better, but he added it can cause some major health problem if taken in excess.

    “About 500 people in the country die from Tylenol overdoses each year. 50,000 people are treated in emergency rooms that are Tylenol overdoses. Tylenol is not the medicine to mess around with,” said Walker.

    He said there is one big no-no when it comes to taking Tylenol.

    “If you drink a lot of alcohol, if you have liver disease, if you take more than directed, then, yes, you could be very sick and you could actually die from the Tylenol,” said Walker.

    Walker told ABC 7 News if someone without these problems take Tylenol, it should be safe.

    As far as the main ingredient in painkillers like Ibuprofen, known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), long term use could be dangerous.

    “Ibuprofen is one of several non-steroidals. They can cause GI bleeds, they can cause liver disease, as well, they can cause kidney disease. For long term use, you want to limit long term use of this medication,” said Walker.

    Walker recommends only taking over-the-counter medications as recommended. He said if pain or fever does not go away, go to the doctor.

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