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What Is Piroxicam?

By Christina Whyte
Updated May 17, 2024
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Piroxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which is used to ease the pain and swelling caused by arthritis and other conditions involving inflammation. It works by reducing the amount of prostaglandins in the body, which is the substance that causes some types of painful swelling and fever. While many people experience few or no side effects, there is a potential for minor or serious side effects, and there are some precautions that must be taken while using piroxicam.

The most serious potential side effects of piroxicam are an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, ulcers, and bleeding or tears in the gastrointestinal tract. Patients taking NSAIDs should seek immediate medical attention if they experience pain in the chest, weakness in one side or area of the body, difficulty breathing, or slurred speech, as these symptoms may indicate a heart attack or stroke. Stomach pain, heartburn, bloody vomit, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, or black or bloody stools may indicate serious gastrointestinal side effects, and medical attention should be sought right away.

Some of the more common and less serious side effects of piroxicam include diarrhea, cramping or gas, headache, or lightheadedness. If any of these symptoms are persistent, severe, or if any other unexplainable symptoms are experienced, medical attention should be sought. Patients taking this medication, particularly in higher doses or for longer periods of time, may need to be medically monitored to ensure that the medication is safe and effective for them.

There are a number of medications that may interact with piroxicam, so it is important that a patient tell the prescribing doctor about all medicine and supplements taken, including over the counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. Blood thinning medications, such as warfarin, ibuprofen, other NSAIDs, and oral steroids, may increase the risk of adverse side effects. Piroxicam may increase the toxicity of lithium, cyclosporine, methotrexate, and other drugs, so patients taking these drugs will need to be carefully monitored.

Women who are pregnant, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, or nursing should speak to a doctor about whether this medication is appropriate for them. People with a history of heart disease, stroke, ulcers, bleeding stomach or intestines, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or who smoke should speak to the doctor about their medical history. The risks of taking piroxicam may outweigh the benefits in some circumstances, but the patient may need extra monitoring.

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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