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.
NSAIDs may irritate the stomach lining. 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.
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, 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.
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
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
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.
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 & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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