Subah Nuzhat Hussein
ANN / THE DAILY STAR – It’s a cold morning, your toes are freezing. You stayed up late to complete an assignment. There’s a whole construction site going on in your skull. Tiny construction workers drill, hit, hammer as if their paycheck depended on it. What do you do?
Most people would take one paracetamol tablet, maybe two, and wash it down with water. Sometimes the pain goes away for a while, sometimes it doesn’t.
Like the salt on our tables, paracetamol is a staple in everyone’s drug supply. It’s affordable, gets the job done, and it’s always stocked at your local pharmacy. From sinus infections to migraines, fevers to back pain, paracetamols are the ultimate salvation. The panacea of ââthe 21st century.
This is why it is not surprising that people often swallow paracetamols like candy. Even though paracetamol is considered harmless enough to be used as an over-the-counter pain reliever, it was not invented to be used every day, especially in doses that we often consume.
As a child, I fell ill every season. My fevers often skyrocketed. Still, I was only allowed one pill in 24 hours and only if I really needed it. At the time, I wondered why I needed to suffer so much when most of my other friends took two or even three pills to avoid minor headaches.
Consuming large amounts of paracetamol lowers your pain tolerance. For someone with chronic pain, this can be a very slippery slope. Once down, it’s hard to find your way back.
Why should you tolerate pain, especially when you have an important meeting or exams around the corner? Why should you forgo relief when only one pill is left?
I’m not saying you should give up paracetamol completely. Although it wasn’t as revolutionary as antibiotics, paracetamols made trips to the doctor less frequent. Sometimes paracetamol is all you need to deal with a really bad migraine or a seasonal cold.
However, all medications should be used in moderation. Paracetamol is harmless if used occasionally. Taking more than two tablets per day for an extended period puts excessive pressure on other organs.
Taking paracetamol by reflex and not out of necessity reinforces a habit. This habit makes the drug less effective over time. Which leads to the consumption of higher doses. It’s an endless loop that’s hard to get out of.
Paracetamol may temporarily relieve pain, but it is only a bandage for a deep cut. To deal with chronic pain, you need to get to the bottom of it. Consult your doctor. Keep warm if your sinuses are often inflamed. Know what triggers your migraine. Get to the heart of your problems. Paracetamol is not a cure. Don’t treat it like that.