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Pharmacy and Medications

Pain, liver & over-the-counter medicine?



Are there any over the counter pain relievers that (taken in excess) don’t cause liver damage?

I am 65, I often do extensive physical work on my rural house at 9000 feet and I get very sore. I have been depending on ibuprofen and acetaminophen (many pills) to relive the pain so I can sleep.

I just saw on TV that this will damage my liver.

Abandoning the project or working less are not options.

Do you have any suggestions?


There are no over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be taken in excess without some form of either liver or kidney damage. OTC pain medications have a very small window of pain relief. The more medication you take does not mean the more pain relief you will have.

If the pain does not subside with recommended daily doses, then it may be time to consult your doctor about prescription pain relieving options. Prescription pain relievers have a greater window of pain relief so less medication is needed to get the same effect if not more effect than the OTCs.

Consult your doctor about your concerns.

Submitted by Cincy Lee, Pharm D Candidate, The Ohio State University

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Response by:

Carmen M Hadley, RPh, CSPI
Former Clinical Instructor
College of Pharmacy
The Ohio State University