A study published in Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety has reported that around 15% of adults take common pain relievers more frequently, and in higher doses than recommended. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are some of the most commonly used medicines in Canada, and worldwide. Participants in this study completed a daily medication diary for one week to track their usage of ibuprofen. Overall, just over half of the participants took the drug at least three days of the week, and 16% took it every day. The study’s focus on users who had been actively taking these pain-killers for the month previous to the study period could have an effect on the data, as it leaves out infrequent or new users of these drugs.
“These drugs can have serious side-effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding and heart attacks, and are often taken without medical oversight because many products are available over-the-counter. The attitude that users can choose their own dose regardless of label directions, along with poor knowledge of dosing limits, is associated with exceeding the daily limit,” says lead study author Dr. David Kaufman of Boston University.
Because NSAIDs are so widely available and accessible, many people misinterpret this to mean they can be taken without risk. People often do not bother reading the label or safety warning, and if they do some tend to ignore it. The Health Canada maximum recommended dose for NSAIDs is 1,200 mgs per day and should be used for seven days or less.
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