Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also referred to as NSAIDs (pronounced as en-saids), are the most common medicines that are prescribed for the treatment of illnesses such as arthritis. The majority of the individuals is familiar with the non prescription NSAIDs including aspirin and ibuprofen that are sold over-the-counter. What are other uses and the common NSAIDs? Meanwhile, some precautions should be taken otherwise side effects may occur.

Uses of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are medicines that are commonly used:

  • As a pain reliever
  • To decrease the associated inflammation (symptoms of swelling and redness)
  • To reduce high temperature (fever)

A wide range of medical illnesses is treated or relieved using NSAIDs. Acute conditions for which NSAIDs are commonly used are:

  • Headache
  • Dysmenorrhoea or painful menstruation
  • Toothache
  • Injury to soft tissues including strains and sprains

Chronic conditions for which NSAIDs are commonly used include:

  • Pain and inflammation associated with arthritis of most of the types, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Backache
  • Pain in neck

How to Use Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

  • NSAIDs are taken orally with a glass of water (240 ml or 8 oz) unless directed otherwise by your doctor. The dosage is decided on the basis of your illness and your response to the medicine.
  • In case you develop upset stomach due to the medicine, you should preferably take it with milk, antacid or food.
  • Avoid lying down for at least half an hour after taking this drug. In some illnesses such as arthritis, the full benefit of the drug may take up to 2 weeks to appear.
  • In case you are using it for migraine headache, if the pain gets worse or is not relieved after the first dose, it is recommended to get immediate medical advice.

Examples of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Over the Counter

NSAIDs are available over-the-counter that you can buy without a prescription. Some examples are:

  • Ibuprofen (brand name advil and motrin)
  • Naproxen (brand name aleve).

Prescription

Some examples of prescription NSAIDs include

  • Celecoxib (brand name Celebrex)
  • Diclofenac (brand name Voltaren)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ketoprofen
  • Naproxen (brand name anaprox)
  • Piroxicam (brand name feldene)
  • Suldinac (brand name clinoril).

Voltaren is available both as a pill and as a gel that can be applied over the painful area for quicker relief of symptoms.

Precautions for Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Medical Conditions to Think About

You should always discuss with your doctor before taking NSAID if

  • You are allergic to aspirin or other pain relieving drugs
  • You have a history of ulcers or bleeding in the stomach and intestines
  • You have a history of recurrent pain in stomach, or heartburn
  • You have a history of anemia
  • You have a history of prolonged bleeding or bruising easily
  • You drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day as it puts you at an increased risk of bleeding from your stomach
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have a history of heart, liver or kidney disease

Drug Interactions

NSAIDs may interact with other drugs you may be taking. Hence, if you are taking other prescription or non prescription drugs, you should always discuss them with your physician before taking NSAIDs, especially if you are taking:

  • Blood thinning medicines including heparin, aspirin or warfarin
  • Medicines for any psychiatric illness
  • Medicines to reduce swelling
  • Medicines to treat diabetes or arthritis

For Women

Females who are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant or are breast feeding their babies should not take any medicine unless instructed by a physician. These medicines include all types of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal medicines, vitamins and health supplements. You should also ensure that your physician knows that you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant or breast feeding your baby.

Side Effect of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

The majority of the individuals taking NSAIDs does not experience any side effects. Using NSAIDs for short duration does not produce significant side effects, especially in young patients.

In case side effects develop, usually gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines) is affected. Some of the common side effects of using NSAIDs are:

  • Digestive upset
  • Ulcer formation in stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Allergy to the medicine such as development of skin rashes

In elderly patients (of age 55 years or above) or those who have a history of ulcers in the stomach, but who still require long term treatment with NSAID, antacids (medicines that suppress stomach acid secretion) are prescribed along with NSAIDs. This reduces the risk of complications of ulcer formation in the stomach.

When to See a Doctor

You should keep in mind that side effects of a medicine usually go away after taking the medicine for some time. In case the side effects do no go away then you should see your doctor. You should not quit taking the medicine suddenly without informing your doctor.

You should call emergency services if you develop:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hives (skin rash)
  • Swelling of your lips, throat, tongue, or face
  • Signs that you are developing a heart attack or stroke

You should also see your doctor in case you have:

  • Presence of blood in your stool
  • Bleeding of any kind for which there is no cause
 
 
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