acute liver failure

  1. Another bad use for painkillers

    Hearts have been broken for about as long as there have been hearts to break -- but it's only in recent years that people began to rely on drugs to get over the emotional toll of rejection.

    And if a new study is any indication, self-medication for this "condition" is about to get dangerously easy.

    Acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, is already one of the most overused drugs on the planet, with overdoses now the nation's leading cause of acute liver failure.

    But now, researchers claim this same med can help with more than just physical boo-boos. Because both physical and emotional pains are processed in the same part of the brain (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex), the same meds used for one can supposedly help with the other.

    To make that point, researchers assigned 62 people to either 1,000 mg of Tylenol or a placebo, and asked them to keep emotional journals for three weeks.

    Sure enough, those who took the drug had fewer hurt feelings over that time.

    In an earlier study, the same researchers found that Tylenol helps dull emotional pain in nine days.

    And in another sequence of experiments, they used videogames to make people feel excluded and found that people who took Tylenol were less bothered by this high-tech version of classic social rejection.

    The researchers admit that popping Tylenol for emotional pain probably isn't the best idea in the world, but you can bet that message is going to get lost in the wilderness.

    And that's where this one can turn ugly fast -- because along with the risk of liver failure, acetaminophen overdose is responsible for 56,000 trips to the emergency room and hundreds of deaths every year in the United States alone.

    This drug has also been linked to a host of side effects, including stomach bleeding, abdominal pain, an increased risk of blood cancer and even severe allergic reactions.

    One recent study found that even small overdoses taken over several days --- what scientists call a "staggered" overdose --- can actually be deadlier than the big overdoses taken by people who attempt suicide.

    So no matter what form of pain you're going through -- physical or emotional -- this drug is a bad choice.

    Stick to natural options instead, including time itself. It might not heal all wounds, but it does a pretty good job with emotional pain.

  2. The painkiller deception

    It might make sense to some people – the strongest pain calls for the strongest painkillers, right?

    Wrong!

    I know plenty of people with arthritis who are left wondering why even the most powerful drugs never quite do the trick. So they take more – and higher doses… all the while still fighting pain and getting no better.

    That's because arthritis can't be solved by painkillers – especially the powerful opioids like codeine and oxycodone. And a new paper questions the wisdom of giving opioids to these patients at all, no matter what form of arthritis they have.

    It's about time.

    I was thrilled the read the report in The Cochrane Library, which concluded that opioids simply aren't worth the risk. In a review of 10 studies, researchers found that these painkillers offer arthritis sufferers only small to moderate improvements in pain... but a great risk of side effects like nausea and constipation.

    Those side effects are so bad – and so common – that many patients stop taking these meds altogether. I hope they didn't take them much at all in the first place – because opioids also happen to be highly addictive, and stopping them can lead to withdrawal.

    Yup – if the arthritis isn't making you miserable enough, you can end up with withdrawal symptoms that include the sweats, chills, cramps, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, hypertension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.

    The researchers even found that higher doses don't work any better, and suggested that arthritis patients just stick to acetaminophen-based painkillers (like Tylenol) instead.

    But is acetaminophen really that much better? The side effects aren't quite as bad… but you still run the risk of problems such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, allergic reactions and even liver damage with steady use.

    In fact, acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure, and heavy use has been linked to kidney damage.

    But you don't need to choose one bad drug over another. You just need to choose a new approach – a safer, more natural and more complete solution.

    If you're a Health Revelations subscriber, head into the online archives and take a look at the May issue for regular arthritis, and June for rheumatoid. The answers are there, waiting for you. You just need to give up those meds you've come to depend on – and the side effects that come with them.

  3. Pain for the painkillers

    Finally, folks in the mainstream are ready to talk common sense when it comes to painkillers.

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