Dr. Lee: Many pain medications are available over-the-counter
(without a prescription, or OTC) in the . for short-term relief of
joint pain , muscle aches , headache , menstrual cramps , and fever . These OTC
analgesics are generally well tolerated and safe when used properly. But side
effects do occur and in some instances can be serious. Today, we will ask Dr.
William Shiel how to use these analgesics properly in order to minimize risks
and side effects. We will also ask him to compare traditional pain relievers with the newer pain relievers, the selective COX-2
What pain medications are available in this country without a doctor's prescription?
Answer: Steroids are incredible drugs for certain diseases. They are powerful
anti-inflammatories and often are the only drugs available in certain diseases. We would
use them more commonly if the side effects weren't so troubling. The side effects are
usually limited to chronic use;that is, short term use is usually without major problems.
The longer the steroids are used and the higher the dose the more the long term side
effects. These side effects are to basically speed up the aging process. The eyes develop
cataracts, bones develop osteoporosis and fracture, arteries develop hardening at a faster
rate, serum glucose levels rise and often lead to diabetes mellitus, muscles weaken and
atrophy. These changes usually take some time to develop and are faster with higher doses.
Physicians try to use the smallest dose of steroids for the shortest time available; but,
for many diseases there is absolutely no alternative to their use and the side effects
must be accepted if the patient is to improve.