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. Taking NSAIDs with food may help prevent these problems.
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, has
been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. It does carry the
risks of serious stomach and intestinal bleeding as well as skin
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.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.