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Rev Med Suisse. 2010 Jun 30;6(255):1338-41.

[Self medication with analgesics: what are the risks?].

[Article in French]

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Clinique de Carouge I, Avenue Cardinal-Mermillod, 1227 Carouge.


Analgesics are among the most widely consumed drugs, whether they have been prescribed by a healthcare provider or used as self-medication. Their use can be associated with a toxicity risk, in particular in elderly patients with comorbid conditions and polypharmacy, which is synonymous with potential drug interactions. These risks are particularly high given the fact that patients are usually unaware of them, which highlights the necessity for thorough counselling and a precise drug history. In this article, we discuss the risks that are inherent to self-medication with paracetamol, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and opioids. The particular case of medication overuse headache is mentioned as an entity which is characterized by a dependency-like behaviour towards the concerned analgesics.

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