Judy Finnigan said common painkiller use for painful knee left her close to death

Pharmacist explains how paracetamol and ibuprofen work

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Judy Finnigan is well-loved for her time as a television presenter in the UK alongside her husband Richard Madeley. Though the TV star is a smiling and friendly face to millions, she has had some health struggles behind the scenes which she willingly opened up to in her Daily Express column in 2019.

Judy, now 74, revealed she had to have two “major, life-saving” blood transfusions after being rushed to hospital by an ambulance.

The former This Morning presenter explained she had been taking the painkiller due to a “painful knee”.

In her column for the Daily Express, she wrote: “Last autumn it happened to me and I nearly died.

“It was nothing to do with aspirin, which I don’t take. The culprit was good old over-the-counter ibuprofen, the seemingly harmless stuff you take for a bad back, or (in my case) a painful knee.

“I gulped the jolly little bright blue capsules, looking like sweeties, daily for a mere four weeks.

“Totally out of the blue. Never experienced anything like it before and hope to God I never will again.”

She went on to praise the NHS who helped her during her experience. She said: “I survived thanks to an exceptionally swift-arriving and skilled ambulance crew, superb emergency treatment at London’s Royal Free Hospital, and two major life-saving blood transfusions.”

According to Judy’s account, a gastric consultant told her ibuprofen was a “smoking gun” which had caused “four large stomach ulcers in as many weeks.”

She added: “He’d found one directly above a main artery, which had ruptured.”

Had she not been admitted to hospital at the time, Judy was informed she could have bled to death.

She said: “I’m absolutely fine now but I’ve become evangelical about stopping friends and family from taking ibuprofen.”

What are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer?

The NHS states: “The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain that develops in your abdomen (tummy).

“Not all stomach ulcers are painful. Some may only be noticed if there’s a complication of a stomach ulcer, such as bleeding from the ulcer.”

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The health service describes the pain caused by a stomach ulcer as a “burning” sensation.

It can last from a few minutes to a few hours, and often starts within a few hours of eating. You may also wake up in pain during the night.

Taking antacids (indigestion medicines) may relieve the pain temporarily, but it’ll keep coming back if the ulcer isn’t treated.

Other, less common, symptoms can include:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Weight loss

Some people also find they burp or become bloated after eating fatty foods.

If you are concerned about persistent symptoms of a stomach ulcer, the NHS advises booking an appointment with your GP.

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