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NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and Arthritis


Are NSAIDs Available Without a Prescription?

Yes. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are available without a prescription in lower doses than comparable prescription NSAIDs. Current over-the-counter NSAIDs include:

  • Aspirin compounds (Anacin, Ascriptin, Bayer, Bufferin, and Excedrin)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, and Motrin)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)

Over-the-counter NSAID labels must contain information about the risks of heart attack, stroke, and stomach bleeding. As with any medication, always follow the directions on the label and the instructions from your doctor.

Never use an over-the-counter NSAID continuously for more than 10 days without checking with your doctor. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are effective pain relievers, but they are intended for short-term use. When taking NSAIDs for long periods of time, you should be carefully monitored by your doctor so she can detect side effects and change your treatment if necessary.

Who Should Not Take NSAIDs?

Ask your doctor before taking an NSAID if: 

  • You have had serious side effects from taking a pain reliever or fever reducer
  • You have a higher risk of stomach bleeding (see above) 
  • You have stomach problems, including heartburn
  • You have high blood pressure, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, or kidney disease
  • You have asthma
  • You take a diuretic medication


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on February 11, 2014
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