Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs, are a group of drugs used to treat pain and inflammation, especially for arthritis patients. Nearly every arthritis sufferer has to take NSAIDs to reduce their symptoms.
While most of these drugs are available over-the-counter (OTC), some need prescription to be purchased from the drug store. Some NSAIDs can be bought over the counter are aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
Usage and side effects of NSAIDs
NSAIDs relieve pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic joint diseases, or in people with variety of painful conditions such as backache, headache or toothache. Plus, NSAIDs reduce the risk of coronary artery occlusion and strokes.
These medicines can reduce pain by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzyme. This enzyme produces a compound called prostaglandins that plays a role in inflammation and pain. However, this enzyme also protects the lining of the digestive system. Therefore, by inhibiting cyclooxygenase, NSAIDs can cause upset stomach and bleeding ulcers in the stomach if administrated inappropriately.
Other side effects of NSAIDs include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Allergic reaction – hives, facial swelling, asthma/wheezing
Taking NSAIDs when you have stomach problems
If you have to take NSAIDs, there are ways to reduce upset stomach and protect your stomach from ulcer complications. Some doctors may recommend taking acid-blocking drug with NSAID, including histamine blockers such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine hydrochloride (Zantac), or proton pump inhibitors such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec).
Another drug you can consider taking is misoprostol (Cytotec). This drug promotes healing of any existing ulcers and rebalances the prostaglandins to protect your stomach. If your doctor recommends it and you can just reduce the dosage of your current NSAID, stomach problems may become manageable.
Tips for taking NSAIDs
Talk to your doctor if you:
- Take other medicines, especially blood thinners such as warfarin or clopido
- Are taking NSAIDs under prescription, including celecoxib (Celebrex) or nabumetone (Relafen).
- Need to take NSAIDs ofte Tell your doctor to monitor for side effects.
Other tips for taking pain medicines:
- Read and follow the instruction on the label of your medicine.
- Store medicine safely and securely.
If you have any of the following conditions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter NSAIDs:
- Have heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Stomach or digestive tract bleeding
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: April 23, 2017 | Last Modified: April 20, 2017
Avoiding Stomach Problems With NSAIDs. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/medication/drug-types/nsaids/nsaids-stomach-upset.php. Accessed April 19, 2017.
Guidelines to Help Reduce the Side-Effects of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents). https://www.hss.edu/conditions_guidelines-reduce-side-effects-nsaids.asp. Accessed April 19, 2017.
Taking NSAIDs? Protect Your Tummy. http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/anti-inflammatory-drugs-rheumatoid-arthritis#1. Accessed April 19, 2017.
Managing the Adverse Effects of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/750226_3. Accessed April 19, 2017.
NSAIDs: Good for the Joints, Bad for the Gut? https://www.iffgd.org/diet-treatments/nsaids.html. Accessed April 19, 2017.
Over-the-counter pain relievers. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002123.htm. Accessed April 19, 2017.
OTC Pain Relief: Understanding NSAIDs. http://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/otc-pain-relief-10/pain-relievers-nsaids. Accessed April 19, 2017.