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Dangers of Anti-Inflammatory drugs

In an effort to provide our customers with natural alternatives to traditional medicines, it is important to highlight some of the facts surrounding prescription and OTC medications one of those being, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to manage the pain and inflammation (swelling and redness) associated with some types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and other musculoskeletal disorders.

NSAIDs are also used to treat non-inflammatory conditions such as migraine, period pain and postoperative pain, and to reduce fever.

Some commonly used NSAIDs include:

Aspirin (such as Disprin)

Ibuprofen (such as Nurofen)

Naproxen (such as Naprosyn)

Diclofenac (such as Voltaren)

Celecoxib (such as Celebrex).

How NSAIDs work

Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals in the body that contribute to inflammation, pain and fever by raising temperature and dilating blood vessels, which causes redness and swelling in the place they are released.

NSAIDs block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (or COX) used by the body to make prostaglandins. By reducing production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs help relieve the discomfort of fever and reduce inflammation and associated pain.

Side effects of NSAIDs

While NSAIDs are effective in relieving pain, fever and inflammation, they can cause unwanted side effects.

Gastrointestinal side effects such as indigestion, stomach upset (including nausea or feeling sick) or stomach pain are commonly caused by NSAIDs. Use of NSAIDs can also cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract (gut).

Other common side effects of NSAIDs include:

Raised liver enzymes (detected by a blood test)




Salt and fluid retention

High blood pressure.

Less common side effects include:

Ulcers of the oesophagus (food pipe)

Rectal irritation (if suppositories are used)

Heart failure

Hyperkalaemia (high levels of potassium in the blood)

Reduced kidney function


Bronchospasm (difficulty breathing)

Skin rash

Skin irritation, reddening, itching or rash (if skin products are used, such as a cream).

NSAIDs (with the exception of low-dose aspirin) may also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, even in healthy people.

In general, using NSAIDs occasionally rather than every day, and at the lowest dose possible, reduces your chances of developing serious side effects. If you’re concerned or unsure about your risk of side effects with NSAIDs, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

NSAIDs high-risk groups

Some people are at higher risk of developing serious complications from taking NSAIDs. Risk factors include:

Increasing age (side effects are more common in people aged 65 years and over)

Previous or current gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, bleeding or Helicobacter pylori infection (the germ that can cause ulcers)

Having particular heart problems (for example, heart failure), high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease

Drinking alcohol

Taking high doses of NSAIDs

Taking NSAIDs for more than a few days at a time

Taking certain other medicines while taking NSAIDs.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any of the risk factors above before buying or taking an NSAID. They can advise whether an NSAID is suitable for you and discuss your risk of side effects.

Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining. Regular or heavy drinking of alcohol while taking NSAIDs may increase the risk of gastrointestinal damage or bleeding.

Over-the-counter medicines can contain NSAIDs

Some over-the-counter medicines contain NSAIDs, for example, pain relief medicines and some cough, cold and flu medicines.

If you already take an NSAID, you may increase your risk of side effects or an accidental overdose if you also take an over-the-counter medicine that contains aspirin or another NSAID.


Always check the active ingredient before buying any over-the-counter medicine and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure whether it’s safe for you to take.

Source for the information in this article is attributed to: