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What Are NSAIDs for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Is There a Serious Risk of Stomach Ulcers?

The chance of getting an ulcer or stomach bleeding rises even more if you also take corticosteroids (often called "steroids") for RA or blood thinners, or anticoagulants. Also, the longer you use NSAIDs, the greater the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers.

Older adults, especially over 65, are more likely to get stomach bleeding and ulcers, as do those who drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

If you take NSAIDs to ease the inflammation, pain, and stiffness of RA, talk with your doctor about ways to protect your stomach. If you’re at high risk for stomach bleeding, you may need a strong stomach acid blocker to help prevent ulcers.

Can I Take NSAIDs if I Have High Blood Pressure?

Your doctor will check on that. NSAIDs can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, which may cause these organs not to work as well. This makes fluid build up in your body, which can raise your blood pressure.

So, if you take these meds, you will probably get a blood test from time to time to check how well your kidneys work.

Can I Be Allergic to NSAIDs?

They can cause allergies. Experts aren't sure why, but some people with asthma are sensitive to some NSAIDs. The drugs may worsen breathing, and many specialists recommend that people who have asthma not take certain NSAIDs. The risk may be greater in people with sinus problems or nasal polyps.

If you have asthma, make sure your arthritis doctor knows. Some NSAIDs may be safer for you.

Are There Special Precautions for Using These Meds for RA?

Use NSAIDs with caution if you have kidney or liver disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus, asthma, or ulcers.

Tell your doctor about all drugs and supplements you take. NSAIDs may interact with blood thinners, cyclosporine, lithium, or methotrexate. Let your doctor know if you're sensitive to aspirin.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 15, 2015
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