We all take over-the-counter pain relievers often enough, but what constitutes abuse? While drugs like Advil and Aleve are generally quite safe, there is plenty of documented problems with them, evidenced by damage done to digestive systems, kidneys, livers, and hearts. The best way to avoid harm? Take as little as possible. “Doubling or tripling down on these drugs won’t zap your pain any faster,” says Orly Vardeny, associate professor of pharmacy and medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And don’t take them longer than a week. “Any time you’re treating pain for that long, there might be something more serious going on,” Vardeny says. Finally, and most importantly, get to know the drug you’re taking, including the dosage, risks associated, and what it will treat.
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