Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce fever and inflammation and relieve pain. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Be sure to follow the nonprescription medicine precautions. Ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil) Adults: The initial dose is 400 mg. Follow-up doses are…

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Topic Overview

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce fever and inflammation and relieve pain. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Be sure to follow the nonprescription medicine precautions.

Ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil)

  • Adults: The initial dose is 400 mg. Follow-up doses are 200 mg to 400 mg every 4 hours as needed, up to a maximum of 4 doses in a 24-hour period.
  • Children: Your child's over-the-counter medicine will have a "Drug Facts" label. On the label, you'll find directions for your child's age or weight, the dose to give, and how often to give the dose. For children younger than 6 months of age, follow what your doctor has told you about the amount to give.
    • Be extra careful with liquid medicines. Infants usually need a different dose than older children do. And some liquid forms are stronger (more concentrated) than others. Always read the label so that you give the right dose.
    • When you give medicine, use the tool that comes with the medicine, such as a dropper or a dosing cup. Don't use a spoon instead of the tool. Spoons can be different sizes. If the medicine doesn't come with a tool to give doses, ask your pharmacist for one.

Naproxen (such as Aleve)

  • Adults: Initial dose is 440 mg. Follow-up doses are 220 mg every 8 to 12 hours as needed. Drink a full glass of water with each dose. Do not take more than 440 mg in any 8-hour to 12-hour period or 660 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Adults older than 65: Do not take more than 220 mg every 12 hours unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Children: Do not give naproxen to children younger than 12 unless your doctor tells you to. Your doctor may prescribe naproxen for your child.

Side effects

The most common side effects of NSAIDs are stomach upset, heartburn, and nausea. 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.

  • NSAIDs can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include hives, swelling of the face, wheezing, and shock. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
  • For safety, read the label carefully and do not take more than prescribed. Taking a larger dose or taking the medicine longer than recommended can increase your risk of dangerous side effects.
  • Do not use a nonprescription NSAID for longer than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

Reasons to stop taking NSAIDs

NSAIDs may delay healing. If you develop any of the following signs of infection, stop taking the medication:

  • An increase in pain
  • Skin that is hot to the touch around the injury or wound
  • Redness or red streaks extending from the injury or wound
  • Pus that continues to form in the wound
  • Fever with no other cause
  • Swollen glands above the injury or wound

NSAID risks

  • NSAIDs have the potential to increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, skin reactions, and serious stomach and intestinal bleeding. These risks are greater if you take NSAIDs 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.

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.

Do not take NSAIDS if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any type of pain medicine.

If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before you use NSAIDs. It is especially important to avoid using NSAIDs during the last 3 months of pregnancy unless your doctor tells you to. They can cause problems with the baby or the delivery.

Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs if you have:

  • Ulcers or a history of stomach or intestinal bleeding.
  • Stomach pain, upset stomach, or heartburn that lasts or comes back.
  • Anemia.
  • Bleeding problems.
  • A habit of drinking more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day. This increases your risk of stomach bleeding.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Kidney, liver, or heart disease.
  • Any serious health condition.

Talk to your doctor before using NSAIDs if you take:

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants).
  • Lithium.
  • Diuretics (water pills).
  • Medicine for arthritis or diabetes.
  • Aspirin to protect your heart.
  • Any other drugs.

Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.

Credits

Current as ofMarch 28, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David Messenger MD

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.

Related topics

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.