"Lots and lots of Vitamin I," a guy replied (laughing) to me the other day, while we were chatting at the physical therapist's office, after I'd queried how he kept up his really intense workout regime with the type of injury he had.
Inwardly, I cringed. Bigly.
What's Vitamin I? It's what outdoor folks (particularly thru hikers and hikers) fondly call Ibuprofen, an NSAID, and it's no joke.
What's an NSAID? It's a lovely anti-inflammatory drug you can buy over the counter at any pharmacy - it's great for pain and marvelous for inflammation. It's not a steroid and you can buy it everywhere, so it's safe, right? Wrong.
When my back injury occurred, the docs started me on large doses of Vitamin I, which I was on for weeks - which totally destroyed my stomach. As in I can't eat the same way I used to, I have a lot of pain with it, and I have had to change how I do things because of it. It's greatly affected my everyday life.
There's been a lot of studies, and you can read an overview of them at Time, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, and Harvard's websites.
So what are the risks of NSAIDS?
- The heart - increased risk for heart attack by 1/3 (though Ibuprofen more than doubled those risks).....and 19% increased risk of being hospitalized for heart failure
- intestinal bleeding
- increase chance of stroke
- increase change of hearing loss (by 10%)
- greater chance of bone loss with resistance training
But you only take them occasionally in low doses, so that's fine, right? Nope. You can mess your heart up only using it for less than a week - though long-term use and higher doses increase the risk.
Even scarier - they don't know why it increases the risk of a heart event. WTAF.
Sometimes, you may *have* to take it, to get some sleep, especially if you manage chronic pain. Don't feel bad about it!!
- take the lowest dose possible
- don't take more than one kind of NSAID at a time, it increases the danger
What if you have chronic, painful inflammation and don't want to take "Vitamin I" any longer? Look for my post next week, where I'll write about some of the wonderful alternatives out there to help deal with inflammation.
Because being in pain sucks, and it keeps you from doing the &^%$ you want to do.
Do you use NSAIDS? Any problems? How do you deal with pain from activities? Comment below or email me here.