Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve pain and fever and to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by injury or diseases such as arthritis. Aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen are commonly used NSAIDs. NSAIDs may cause side effects. The most common are stomach upset, heartburn, and…

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve pain and fever and to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by injury or diseases such as arthritis. Aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen are commonly used NSAIDs.

NSAIDs may cause side effects. The most common are stomach upset, heartburn, and nausea. NSAIDs may irritate the stomach lining. If the medicine upsets your stomach, you can try taking it with food. But if that doesn't help, talk with your doctor to make sure it's not a more serious problem.

Frequent or long-term use of NSAIDs may lead to stomach ulcers or high blood pressure. They can also cause a severe allergic reaction.

  • NSAIDs have the potential to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, skin reactions, and serious stomach and intestinal bleeding. These risks are greater if NSAIDs are taken at higher doses or for longer periods than recommended.
  • Aspirin, unlike other NSAIDs, can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke. But taking aspirin isn't right for everyone, because it can cause serious bleeding. Talk to your doctor before you start taking aspirin every day.
  • Because aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding, it is not recommended for new injuries. Take other medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen for the first 2 or 3 days after an injury.

NSAIDs should be taken exactly as prescribed or according to the label. Taking a larger dose or taking the medicine longer than recommended can increase the risk of dangerous side effects.

Talk to your doctor about whether NSAIDs are right for you. People who are older than 65 or who have existing heart, stomach, kidney, liver, or intestinal disease are at higher risk for problems. For other people, the benefits may outweigh the risks.

Aspirin should not be given to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines? Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you’re taking it, and any warnings about the medicine. The information provided here is general. So be sure to read…

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Information about this medicine

What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines?

Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.

The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

Why are NSAIDs used?

NSAIDs help with pain and fever. They can also help reduce swelling and inflammation caused by an injury or a disease. Some NSAIDs can also help ease cramping and reduce blood loss from heavy menstrual bleeding.

NSAIDS are used for many different health problems.

What are some examples of NSAIDs?

Here are some examples of NSAIDs. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.

Over-the-counter NSAIDs

  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • naproxen (Aleve)

Prescription NSAIDs

  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • etodolac (Lodine)
  • indomethacin (Indocin)
  • piroxicam (Feldene)

These are not complete lists of NSAIDs.

What about side effects?

Some people notice an upset stomach or heartburn when they take NSAIDs.

General information about side effects

All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.

But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.

If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.

Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

Cautions about NSAIDs

Cautions for NSAIDs include the following:

  • NSAIDs can make certain serious conditions more likely, such as:
    • Stomach problems, especially in older adults. These problems include stomach or intestinal bleeding.
    • Heart attack and stroke. This is especially true if you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. This risk may be higher if you use NSAIDs for a long time or use higher doses of an NSAID.
    • A sudden kidney problem called acute kidney injury.
  • NSAIDs can make certain health problems worse, such as heart failure and kidney disease.
  • If you are using over-the-counter NSAIDs, don't use them for longer than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

Cautions for all medicines

  • Allergic reactions: All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you've had.
  • Drug interactions: Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn't expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
  • Harm to unborn babies and newborns: If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medicines you take could harm your baby.
  • Other health problems: Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. Other health problems may affect your medicine. Or the medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.

Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.

Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

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Credits

Current as ofMarch 28, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.