Gut Check Journey

Do You Know How to Safely Use OTC Pain Medicines? The Gut Check Journey Tests Patients’ Knowledge

AGA’s Interactive Experience Shows How to Use OTC Pain Medicine Smartly, Safely

Bethesda, MD (March 24, 2016) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) launched an innovative online challenge for consumers to test their over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine knowhow in a fun and engaging way. Through a set of questions and mini-challenges, users must navigate their way through the Gut Check Journey to prove they know how to safely use the medicines inside their medicine cabinet and avoid potential gastrointestinal and other health problems.

Education Is Critical

“Education is critical when it comes to pain management. Complications from overdose or overuse of over-the-counter medicines are serious and harmful — from stomach bleeding to ulcers to liver damage, and sometimes even death,” said Byron Cryer, MD, councillor-at-large, AGA Institute, and associate dean, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Gut Check Journey: Know Your OTC MedicineThe Gut Check Journey is part of AGA’s national education campaign to provide information and tips on ways to safely use common pain medicines (prescription and OTC) and better understand the different types (NSAIDs and acetaminophen), in an effort to reduce the amount of preventable gastrointestinal and other health problems that thousands of people face every year.

Americans Are Ignoring Medicine Labels

In January, AGA reported that many Americans who turn to OTC medicines for treatment of chronic pain — such as arthritis, migraines and backaches — are routinely ignoring medicine labels. An online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults aged 30 and over, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of AGA in Sept.-Oct. 2015, found that 43 percent of chronic pain sufferers said they knowingly have taken more than the recommended dose, and nearly three in 10 (28 percent) have experienced complications due to OTC pain medicine overdose.

“Pain can be debilitating and keep you from being able to do what you want and need to do,” said Dr. Cryer. “Through this online challenge, which shares simple steps for safer, smarter use of pain medicines, we set out to help pain sufferers control their pain for a more comfortable, enjoyable life.”

The many causes of aches and pains — headaches, fever, allergies, muscle and back aches, arthritis, and tendinitis, to name just a few — may drive consumers to take multiple OTC pain medicines to treat their symptoms.

To get safe relief, AGA recommends that consumers:

  • Talk to their health-care professional about all the medicines they are taking.
  • Read and follow all medicine labels.
  • Take only one product at a time containing the same kind of ingredient.

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About the Campaign
Gut Check: Know Your Medicine is an educational campaign created by the American Gastroenterological Association to motivate and encourage individuals to use pain medicines safely. Medicine labels help adults understand what — if any — medicines share ingredients that could be harmful when taken together. By knowing ingredients, dosing instructions and warnings, individuals can play an important role in protecting their own and their family’s health. To learn more about this campaign, visit

The American Gastroenterological Association developed this education program with sponsorship support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

About the AGA Institute
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization

Survey Method
The Gut Check: Know Your Medicine Survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Gastroenterological Association from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8, 2015, among 1,015 U.S. adults aged 30+ (“consumers”), including 479 who currently experience chronic pain (“chronic pain sufferers”), and 251 licensed gastroenterologists who are office- or clinic-based and see adult patients ages 18 years or older (“gastroenterologists”). The American Gastroenterological Association conducted this survey with sponsorship support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare. For complete research method, including subgroup sample sizes and weighting variables, please contact Sarah Beth Cloar.