The official blog of the Lung Institute.

COPD & Over-the-Counter Pain Meds


COPD & Over-the-Counter Pain Meds

“Several studies have found high rates of pain medication use among COPD patients, and pain has also been an important determinant of overall health status and quality of life in COPD,” senior research associate, Melissa Roberts at the Lovelace Clinic Foundation in Albuquerque, NM, said in an American Thoracic Society news release.

Researchers determined pain levels among study participants by reviewing diagnostic codes and pain medication prescriptions in their medical records. Studies found that COPD patients have more indicators of chronic pain and use more prescription pain medications than patients without chronic disease.

“We found the prevalence of chronic pain among adults with chronic disease to be almost twice as high as among individuals without chronic disease,” Roberts said. “Among those with chronic disease, individuals with COPD were similar to those with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in their experience of pain, but with even greater use of opioids.”

What about over-the-counter meds?

COPD is a lung disease, and although it doesn’t cause lung pain directly, it can cause chest pain due to factors such as coughing. Pain management can be overlooked for reasons such as a patient’s reluctance to adequately communicate their pain or due to all-too-common financial constraints on acquiring pain meds.

If you find you need to take over-the-counter meds to manage COPD-related pain, there are basically two types of over-the-counter pain relievers – acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Acetaminophen is an active ingredient in more than 600 medicines, including pain relievers, cough suppressants and cold medications. It’s important to understand that taking a higher dose than recommended will not provide more relief and can be dangerous.

Acetaminophen overdose can lead to liver damage and death. Risk for liver damage may be increased in people who drink three or more alcoholic beverages a day while using acetaminophen-containing medicines. Read and follow the directions on the label every time you use a medicine.

NSAIDs are common medications used to relieve minor aches and pains and to reduce fever. They include aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen and many medicines taken for colds, sinus pressure and allergies. NSAIDs act by inhibiting an enzyme that helps make a specific chemical.

NSAID overdose can cause stomach bleeding. This risk is higher in people who are over 60 years old, taking prescription blood thinners or steroids, have a history of stomach bleeding or ulcers and/or have other bleeding problems.

Using NSAIDs can cause reversible kidney damage. This risk may also increase in people over 60, in those taking a diuretic (a drug that increases the excretion of urine), and people with high blood pressure, heart disease, or pre-existing kidney disease.

Using over-the-counter pain meds too often can make your body immune to their effects. For this reason, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) advises against taking pain relievers more than twice per week. If you’re in constant or excessive pain associated with COPD, ask your physician about pain management.

Alternative Methods for Alleviating Pain

  • Practice breathing exercises (meditation, yoga)
  • Drink peppermint tea
  • Get more sleep
  • Avoid sleeping in
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid COPD triggers (smoke, chemicals, dust)

We Can Help

If you or a loved one is living with lung disease, feel free to get in touch with us! One of our patient coordinators will be happy to go over any questions you might have. Unfortunately, lung disease is currently incurable; however, you have options. If you are ready to take back your life, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Steve Howell

    2 years ago

    Hello, Merrit.
    I am so sorry to hear about the difficulties you are having. Perhaps you could consider crowdfunding. GoFundMe is a great way to crowdfund; we recently wrote a blog with a few unconventional fundraising ideas. You can read it here: http://lunginstitute.com/blog/fundraising-ideas/. If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options, and perhaps discuss funding treatment, please contact one of our patient care coordinators at (855) 313-1149 to schedule a free consultation. Don’t give up, and best regards.

  2. merrit huddon

    2 years ago

    yes I had this done allost.six mo ago I can’t tell if it help me are not but I still have trouble beather what do you think I need too do I don’t have the money to have it done again so iam out of luck I guess are do u have something to help me ty

Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.