Hospitals, depressed patients and crying babies – a deadly combination that seems to take a toll on me everytime I enter the Genetic clinic wards in pediatrics these days. Spice that up with the pernicious vocal bombs from my thesis supervisor and little wonder that I end up with a bad headache when the sun goes down! Everytime that happens, my mind tells me just to pop in a pain-killer and call it a day but since that “poppin-in” thing has started turning into almost a routine, I thought I would better get a reality check.
Pain-killers, as they are called, do kill pain, but at the same time they seem to be doing much more than that! Just today, a kiwi newspaper reported about a man who turned to marijuana to escape side-effects of pain killers! In November last year, Washington post reported about the death of a professional NFL player whose life took a rapid descent fueled by chronic use of a painkiller prescribed to deal with the lingering soreness of playing professional football. In fact, various reports indicate that several cases of kidney and liver failures can be associated, at least partially, to the continuous use of analgesics. Some popular analgesic drugs like Paracetamol and Aspirin, which have decorated cupboards across the globe for quite some time now, are very useful without any doubt but may not be as necessay as they are percieved to be. A mild headache, for instance, can easily be treated effectively by simply sipping two or three glasses of water followed by some rest!
Abusing Pain-killers can rather make your headaches worse, requiring more of them and thus making you addicted to them. The Huffington Post made an interesting revelation about Cindy McCain in June last year that in the mid-nineties she was addicted to prescription pain killers! Not just her, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), an estimated 5.2 million people used painkillers in 2006 for nonmedical reasons in United States and disturbingly that’s more than twice the 2.4 million people that are estimated to abuse cocaine! If we look more closely at these pain killers, this addictive trend is easy to grasp – most of the painkillers are made up of opoids – a class of highly effective but also highly addictive pain relievers!
So, the moral of the story is that having a mild headache does not necessarily mean one should just grab a pill and pop it in, rather try taking a chill pill with some water and doze yourself off, at least as a preliminary step!