What do you need to know about NSAIDs?

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are used to reduce pain, inflammation and joint stiffness. They're often more effective than regular pain relievers, or analgesics. You can get NSAIDs in tablet, capsule, liquid or suppository form. Since there is more than one kind of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, you might have to try a few different ones to find the type that works best for you.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work by blocking prostaglandins, which are chemicals in your body that produce pain and inflammation. As with any drug, there are possible side effects that come along with NSAID use, and the likelihood of harm increases the longer and more frequently you take the drugs. Some potential dangers are kidney failure, stomach ulcers, stomach bleeding and high blood pressure. These dangers are the results of the blocked prostaglandins, which are what line and protect your stomach in addition to causing pain and inflammation. If you have a history of stomach ulcers or related problems, your doctor should know about it before prescribing a NSAID. Another possible serious side effect is anaphylaxis. In addition to the more scary side effects, there are also some less serious ones that can result from NSAID use, like appetite loss, constipation, confusion, diarrhea, dizziness, heartburn, mouth irritation, raised blood pressure, nausea, rashes and vomiting.


In order to reduce the chance of serious or bothersome side effects, certain medications shouldn't be taken in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You need to tell your doctor about all the medications you're taking so that you can avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. Some drugs worth mentioning to the doctor are blood pressure medications, antacids, blood thinners, diet medication, heart medication, rheumatism drugs, nasal medications, other NSAIDs and seizure medications.