This week we’re discussing pain relieving drugs, known as NSAIDs. In my last post we went over some basics and learned that NSAIDs create a negative feedback loop in your body because they harm more than they heal. Today, I’m going to go more in depth about 5 harmful side effects of NSAIDs.
At the root of most of these problems is that NSAIDs affect the mitochondria in your body’s cells. Every cell in your body is made up of parts called organelles. You can think of them like the organs in your own body—each has a job to do in order for your body to work. Since the organs in our bodies are made of cells, we need the organelles in our cells to function properly, too!
The mitochondria is the organelle of our cells that powers cells which in turn power our bodies. It does this by creating an energy source called ATP. Without ATP, we wouldn’t be able to do any of the things we do.
NSAIDs hurt mitochondria and hinder their ability to create ATP. It also causes them to create chemicals called restrictive oxygen species (ROS) which can cause cancer and other issues as you’ll see below. A buildup of ROS can even affect your ability to hear and cause tinnitus (when you hear a ringing in your ears).
Here are five drawbacks caused by NSAIDs damage to mitochondria and your body:
1. Hurt Your Gut, Liver, and Kidneys
The most common side-effect of NSAIDs (observed in 40%-90% of users!) is indigestion and intestinal bleeding. NSAIDs weaken the lining of your intestines which makes them more susceptible to damage from your own stomach acids. It also causes a buildup of bad bacteria that upset the “good” bacteria in your gut and causes pain. On top of that, NSAIDs increase the likeliness of developing kidney and liver issues.
2. Damage the Circulatory System
The Circulatory or Vascular System is how your blood travels around your body. The ROS produced by impaired mitochondria damage your heart and arteries, lessen the amount of ATP energy available to keep your heart pumping and increase the risk of a heart attack. Good blood flow is vital for your brain to function, too, so NSAIDs can have serious consequences for your brain. They can increase the risk of stroke, cause meningitis (brain swelling), and high doses may cause epilepsy and seizures.
3. Decrease Bone Density
Healthy, strong bones are dense bones. NSAIDs decrease bone density and stop bones from healing and repairing themselves. As a result, they lead to a risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease caused by weak and porous bones.
4. Cause Birth Defects
Studies have found that NSAIDs taken during the third trimester of pregnancy can lead to a wide variety of issues including liver damage and infertility in male children. They are also linked to premature birth and miscarriages.
5. Change Hormones and Induce New Allergies
Despite the fact that “non-steroidal” is the NS in NSAIDs, they affect the steroid hormones created by your body like cortisol and testosterone. Steroid hormones control metabolism, inflammation, and immune functions. NSAIDs lower cortisol which hurts your ability to digest food. NSAIDs also make you hypersensitive to allergies and increase your chance of developing new allergies.
TLDR: NSAIDs damage your individual cells. This damages your organs and bones can cause birth defects and changes your hormones.