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Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

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 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.


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