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What Are the Pros and Cons of NSAID Use?

Article Details
  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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One of the pros of NSAID use is the ability to reduce inflammation, and one of the cons of NSAID use is that taking them can cause gastrointestinal problems. NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are generally used to treat mild to moderate pain. They are especially beneficial to those suffering from arthritis, headaches, and toothaches. In addition, NSAIDs can also help reduce fever and treat pain in the joints and muscles.

Although NSAIDs can be obtained over-the-counter, the health care provider may recommend prescription strength NSAIDs for severe pain. Some of the most commonly taken NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium. Although typically taken orally, NSAIDs can be administered via injection by a health care provider. In addition, they should be taken with caution in those with high blood pressure and kidney disease.

NSAID use is also common in those suffering from menstrual cramps, and although NSAIDs can cause an increase in menstrual bleeding, they can sometimes decrease menstrual bleeding. Women who experience excessive bleeding or who have severe menstrual cramps should seek evaluation and treatment from their health care providers and not rely solely on NSAIDs. These symptoms can be signs of gynecological conditions and will need to be investigated.

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People who have aspirin allergies should avoid NSAID drugs because allergies to aspirin increase the risk of allergies to other NSAIDs. In addition, people who take aspirin or other medications known as blood thinners should avoid NSAID drugs unless recommended by their health care providers. The combination of blood thinners and NSAIDs can cause abnormal bleeding in the gastrointestinal and urinary tract, nosebleeds, and easy bruising.

To reduce the risk of gastrointestinal irritation from NSAID use, these medications should be taken with a meal and plenty of water. Some people are unable to tolerate the gastrointestinal side effects from NSAIDs and therefore, should seek other types of pain relievers. For those who are intolerant of the effects from NSAIDs, acetaminophen can be used. Although acetaminophen can be effective in relieving pain, it does nothing to reduce inflammation.

In rare instances, NSAID use can cause liver and kidney problems. Symptoms of liver problems include jaundice, which is a yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin, dark urine, and loss of appetite. Kidney problems can cause an increase or decrease in urinary output, and nausea. Some patients suffer abnormal swelling of the extremities, abdomen and face. If any of these symptoms occur, the medication should be discontinued immediately and the health care provider should be notified.

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