Doctor Warns Against Long-Term Paracetamol Use Due to Health Risks

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Regular consumption of paracetamol, a common choice for relieving pain and discomfort, is being scrutinized due to the potential health risks associated with its long-term use. Despite its widespread availability and endorsement by healthcare professionals for short-term relief, recent findings highlight the necessity for caution with extended paracetamol use.

Dr. Semiya Aziz brought attention to these concerns during an appearance on the TV program “This Morning.” She affirmed that paracetamol is generally safe for brief periods to treat conditions like headaches and fevers. However, she warned of serious health implications such as fatigue, breathlessness, anemia, and significant liver and kidney damage, which could result from prolonged intake. An alarming symptom includes discoloration of the fingers and lips, indicating severe side effects.

The National Health Service (NHS) maintains that paracetamol can be consumed safely over many years if the recommended dosage is not exceeded. Nonetheless, Dr. Aziz referenced a study indicating an additional concern for chronic users: an increased risk of elevated blood pressure. This risk, previously associated with anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin, is now extended to long-term paracetamol use, emphasizing the need for medical consultation for those relying on it for extended periods, especially individuals with chronic pain or arthritis.

Elevated blood pressure is a known precursor to more severe cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks and strokes, underscoring the importance of cautious paracetamol consumption. The British Heart Foundation supported research by the University of Edinburgh, led by Professor David Webb, which corroborated these findings. The study observed significant blood pressure increases in regular paracetamol users, suggesting a 20 percent heightened risk of heart disease or stroke.

Professor Webb advocates for a conservative approach to paracetamol dosing, recommending the initiation of treatment with minimal doses and gradual increments, only as necessary for pain management. This strategy aims to mitigate the cardiovascular risks identified, advising healthcare providers to monitor blood pressure closely in patients with hypertension beginning paracetamol treatment for chronic pain. This growing body of evidence serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of informed and judicious use of over-the-counter pain medications.

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