This muscle pain reliever is truly “effective.” It not only removed the pain, it also ended the life of one of its users! Great.
The bizarre death of a New York City high school track star from a muscle pain cream overdose is raising a red flag once again on the hazards of overusing common over-the-counter medications, experts say.
Bengay as sexual lubricant? Gosh! Don’t ever make the mistake or it would feel like making love in hell!
The New York City medical examiner’s office ruled last week that 17-year-old cross-country runner Arielle Newman died from an accidental overdose of methyl salicylate, the wintergreen-scented ingredient found in popular sports balms.
To help ease exercise-related discomfort, the Staten Island teenager reportedly had been putting Bengay on her legs between running meets, while also using adhesive pads with methyl salicylate, an aspirin-like anti-inflammatory, and a third product.
“There were multiple products, used to great excess,” Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the NYC medical examiner’s office, said. All of the products can be found as nonprescription items on drug store shelves.
But over-the-counter almost never means “harmless,” experts warned.
Methyl salicylate, or salicylic acid, is the active ingredient in creams such as Bengay, Icy Hot and Tiger Balm, as well as aspirin, and “is potentially harmful if it is overused,” said Dr. Gerard Varlotta, the director of sport rehabilitation at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City.
An anti-clotting agent, salicyclic acid at very high doses “can cause internal bleeding, it can cause arrhythmias of the heart, it can cause problems in the liver — there are any number of ways it can get to you,” Varlotta added.
However, long-familiar brands like Bengay (which first debuted in US drug stores more than 100 years ago) don’t set off alarm bells in most Americans’ minds, so the temptation to overuse them is there, Varlotta said.
And while most people would definitely think twice about swallowing a fistful of aspirin or other OTC pills, people forget that creams carry dangers, too.
“Remember, there are a whole variety of [medicinal] products that are specifically formulated to be absorbed through the skin,” Varlotta said.
As with any drug, moderation is key, another expert added.
“You have to follow the directions, because the poison is in the dose,” advised Elena Juris, an education outreach specialist at the American Association of Poison Control Centers in Washington, D.C. And that maxim applies to creams just as much as it does to pills, she said.
The safest way to ease body pain is actually free. Just dip a towel in hot water and press it on the affected body part. Or you may want to buy a hot or cold compress from the drugstore which you can use over and over again.
Hot therapy helps soothe sore muscle tissues that have been tightened. You may use hot therapy on your bruises provided the swelling is not too considerable.
Cold therapy is needed to help reduce post-operative swelling and bruising. It also helps reduce swelling and bruising resulting from any type of injury.