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What Are NSAIDs for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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What Are the Side Effects?

Most people take NSAIDs with few to no side effects. But some people do have stomach pain, and NSAIDs may cause stomach ulcers.

The most common side effects include:

NSAIDs may also raise blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), keep a close watch on your blood pressure. Let your doctor know if your blood pressure goes up.

Is There a Serious Risk of Stomach Ulcers With NSAIDs?

You are more likely to get an ulcer or stomach bleeding if you also take corticosteroids (often called "steroids" for RA) or blood thinners.

Those side effects are also more likely if:

  • You’ve taken NSAIDs for a long time
  • You’re age 65 or older
  • You drink alcohol
  • You smoke

There are ways to lower the chance of stomach irritation if you take NSAIDs for your RA. People at high risk of stomach bleeding may need a strong stomach acid blocker to help prevent ulcers.

If you take NSAIDs to ease the inflammation, pain, and stiffness of RA, talk with your doctor about ways to protect your stomach.

Can I Take NSAIDs if I Have High Blood Pressure?

If you have high blood pressure or kidney disease, talk to your doctor. NSAIDs can reduce blood flow to the kidneys, so your kidneys may not work as well. This causes fluid to build up in your body, which can raise your blood pressure.

Since NSAIDs can affect the kidneys, your doctor will likely give you a blood test from time to time to check how well your kidneys work.

Can I Be Allergic to NSAIDs?

NSAIDs can cause allergies. This is most worrisome in people with asthma. 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 stay away from certain NSAIDs. The risk may be even greater in people with nasal polyps.

If you have asthma, tell your arthritis doctor. Certain NSAIDs may be safer for you.

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