Making the Decision on NSAIDs
Should you take anti-inflammatory pain relievers regularly? Here are pros and cons to help you make your decision.
Key Points in Making the NSAID Decision
Consider the following when making your decision:
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a common class of
over-the-counter and prescription painkiller. Examples include aspirin, Advil,
Aleve, Motrin, and prescription drugs like Celebrex.
- You should never take any over-the-counter medicine regularly without
discussing it with your doctor. Most over-the-counter painkillers should not be
used for more than 10 days.
- Like any medicine, over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs have side
effects. The FDA has recently required that all over-the-counter and
prescription NSAIDs -- except aspirin -- include warnings about possible risks
of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects and allergic
- The risks of NSAIDs have been highlighted in the media recently. But it's
important to understand that, for many people, NSAIDs are a safe and effective
treatment. The key is to work with your doctor. Together, you can weigh the
benefits and risks and decide on the best treatment in your case.
- NSAIDs are not alike. They can have very different pros and cons. Talk to
your doctor about the NSAID that might work best for you.
- NSAIDs can appear in unlikely places. For instance, many over-the-counter
medicines for colds and the flu contain doses of these pain relievers. Make
sure you know the ingredients of any medicine you use.
- There are alternatives to NSAIDs. Many people who can't take NSAIDs benefit
from Tylenol (acetaminophen.) Other options for people with severe chronic pain
are prescription narcotics, like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Some find
that physical therapy, weight loss (if overweight), biofeedback, yoga,
meditation, and acupuncture can also reduce their pain.
- In some people, complete pain relief isn't possible. But in such cases, you
can focus on reducing your pain so that it doesn't interfere with your
What Are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs -- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- are a common treatment for
ailments, such as joint pain, related to inflammation. They relieve pain,
reduce swelling, and lower fevers.
Examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs are:
- Aspirin (Bayer, St. Joseph, and Ecotrin)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis KT)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
There are also prescription strength NSAIDS. Some examples are Daypro,
Indocin, Lodine, Naprosyn, Relafen, and Voltaren.
Cox-2 inhibitors are a newer form of prescription NSAID. Celebrex is the
only one of these drugs still on the market. Two others -- Bextra and Vioxx --
are no longer sold because of concerns about their side effects.