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What is Celecoxib?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Celecoxib is a prescription drug used to reduce pain and inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and several other chronic inflammatory conditions. The medication is chemically similar to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It works by blocking certain enzymes in the blood and in body tissue that induce inflammation. Celecoxib is generally safe when taken as directed by a doctor, though there are some slight risks of serious complications such as heart attack and stroke. It is important for a patient to discuss his or her medical history with a doctor before starting a prescription to make sure it is the best treatment option.

NSAIDs inhibit the activity of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that can trigger pain and inflammation under certain conditions. Celecoxib binds to receptor sites for cyclooxygenase, thus preventing its activity. The drug is especially effective in patients who have mild to moderate arthritis. It is also commonly used to treat women who experience extremely painful menstrual periods and people with acute inflammation from injuries or surgeries.

A doctor can determine the proper dosing amount and frequency based on the patient's specific condition, overall health, and age. Most adult patients with arthritis are instructed to take one 100 milligram capsule twice a day. After a week or two of treatment, the doctor may decide to raise or lower dosage amounts based on the patient's response.

Most patients are able to take celecoxib without experiencing any adverse side effects. When reactions do occur, they are usually mild and temporary. The most common side effects include stomach upset, bloating, heartburn, and diarrhea. Some patients experience headaches, dizzy spells, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, celecoxib can cause a ringing in the ears, blurry vision, and fever. It is also possible to experience an allergic reaction to the drug that results in an itchy, widespread skin rash and swelling in the throat. Any unusual reactions should be reported to a doctor right away to reduce the chances of serious complications.

Celecoxib differs from many other NSAIDs in that it does not have blood-thinning properties. While aspirin is generally considered good for heart health, celecoxib can potentially cause heart problems if it is taken in high doses or for extended periods of time. The risks of heart attack and stroke are increased for patients who already have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other negative health conditions when they first start to take the drug. If such conditions exist, the physician may consider a different approach to relieving chronic symptoms.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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