National Consumers League


NCL Health Issues

OTC pain relievers: Know your personal risk factors

attention open in a new window

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should consult your doctor before taking OTC pain medications.

And if you are over the age of 65, you should use all OTC pain medications carefully and consult a health professional if you have any questions.

Download NCL's brochure: OTC Pain Relievers: What Helps, What Hurts

Medical history. Have you ever had stomach problems (including bleeding ulcers), liver or kidney disease?

Other medications and dietary supplements. Do you take blood thinners, steroids or dietary supplements?

Alcohol. Do you drink three or more glasses of alcohol a day?

OTC anti-inflammatories or acetaminophen. Do you use OTC pain mediations for more than 10 days?

Allergies. Have you ever had an allergic reaction to any OTC pain reliever?

Follow this checklist for using OTC pain relievers

  • read the label and follow instructions
  • know what the drug will do and its side effects
  • know your personal risk factors (above)
  • identify the pain you want to relieve, and consider a long-term management plan for continuous or chronic pain
  • keep a record of all other medications and dietary supplements you are taking
  • avoid or limit use of alcohol when taking any OTC pain medication
  • talk to a doctor, pharmacist, or other health professional if you have questions