Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) News

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are often called NSAIDs, are a very common type of drug, available both over-the-counter and, in stronger form, by prescription. Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are all NSAIDs.

NSAIDs are often thought of as pain-relieving drugs. And, though this is one of their effects, they also do much more.

What NSAIDs Do

Inside the body, NSAIDs block the action of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that has two forms, COX-1 and COX-2. This allows NSAIDs to relieve pain. But NSAIDs also can reduce fevers and decrease the blood’s ability to clot, which can be good or bad depending on a person’s needs. Aspirin, for example, might be protective against heart disease due to this effect. But, people often need to stop taking NSAIDs before some medical procedures to avoid bleeding problems.

One type of NSAID, celecoxib, is what's known as a COX-2 inhibitor, meaning it only blocks the action of the COX-2 enzyme. It's available by prescription and should not be taken along with a traditional NSAID.

NSAID Risks

Though generally considered safe drugs, NSAIDs do carry some risks. Known side effects include stomach upset, swelling, high blood pressure, rashes and kidney or heart problems. Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid taking NSAIDs, and they can pose risks for people older than 65, too. NSAIDs also can interact with other medications so it’s important for people to talk with their doctor about all their medications before starting to take NSAIDs.

SOURCES: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American College of Rheumatology

Date Posted
Article Title
11/7/2017
8/30/2017
Common Painkillers May Boost Blood Pressure in Arthritis Patients

Widely used NSAID drugs may not be as safe as previously thought, researchers warn

5/10/2017
Common Painkillers Tied to Slight Rise in Heart Attack Risk

Over-the-counter drugs like Aleve and Advil linked to higher odds, researchers say

2/2/2017
Common Painkillers Don't Ease Back Pain, Study Finds

Patients who took NSAIDs were also 2.5 times more likely to suffer gastrointestinal side effects

11/28/2016
Opioids No Better Than Ibuprofen for Pain After Car Crash: Study

But more patients prescribed powerful painkillers were still taking them 6 weeks later

7/29/2016
New Guidelines Issued for Cancer Patients' Post-Treatment Pain

Specialists urge doctors to offer alternative therapies for this widespread problem

10/20/2015
Prescription Naproxen as Good as Narcotic Painkillers for Low Back Pain: Study

Plus, this medication isn't addictive, expert says

8/24/2015
Low-Dose Aspirin, Other Painkillers May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

But findings should be viewed with care, researcher says

3/17/2015
Certain Painkillers May Lower Colon Cancer Risk for Some

Genetics might be key to the anti-cancer benefits of drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen, study finds

1/6/2015
Knee Arthritis Drugs Beat Placebos, but Study Finds No Clear Winner

Injections were rated slightly more effective at fighting pain than pills

11/17/2014
Some Painkillers Tied to Bleeding Risk in Those With Abnormal Heartbeat

People with atrial fibrillation should consider alternatives to commonly used NSAIDs, experts say

9/25/2014
Common Painkillers Tied to Blood Clot Risk, Study Suggests

NSAID medicines include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen/Aleve

8/14/2014
Painkillers May Halve Risk of Breast Cancer Return in Obese Women: Study

Experts think anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin might help cancer treatments work better

7/8/2014
More Painkillers May Raise Heart Risks for Older Women: Review

Class of drugs that includes naproxen linked to increased chance of heart attack, stroke, but finding not conclusive

4/14/2014
Taking Blood Thinners With Certain Painkillers May Raise Bleeding Risk

People using warfarin or Xarelto should avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, study finds

4/9/2014
Certain Prescription Painkillers Tied to Higher Risk of Irregular Heartbeat: Study

Dutch researchers looked at rates of atrial fibrillation and NSAID use in older adults

2/3/2014
Ibuprofen, Aleve Won't Raise Miscarriage Risk: Study

However, NSAIDs should not be taken in third trimester of pregnancy, authors advise

11/7/2013
Always Ask a Vet Before Giving Painkillers to Pets, Expert Says

Dogs and cats can suffer deadly side effects from common over-the-counter drugs

5/30/2013
High Doses of Common Painkillers May Raise Risk for Heart Trouble

Review found chances were greatest in those who took NSAIDs and had a history of cardiovascular disease

1/25/2013
Common Painkillers Tied to Kidney Risks for Children: Study

Expert says NSAIDs are overused for treating kids with fever

1/9/2013
Health Tip: Should You Take NSAIDs?

If you meet any of these criteria, speak to your doctor first

11/30/2012
Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Liver Cancer, Death From Liver Disease

Large, decade-long study also found some benefit from other NSAIDs

9/11/2012
NFL Docs Urge More Caution With Key Pain Med

Football players' use of ketorolac should be more closely monitored, task force says

9/10/2012
Common Painkillers Might Boost Odds for 2nd Heart Attack

NSAIDs include drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen/Aleve, and Celebrex

5/29/2012
Common Painkillers May Help Prevent Skin Cancer: Study

Over-the-counter, prescription 'NSAID' meds appeared to lower risk in Danish patients

4/11/2012
Codeine After Surgery Could Endanger Certain Kids: Study

In children with rare gene mutation, post-tonsillectomy death seemed to be due to reaction to pain medicine

3/20/2012
Ibuprofen May Ward Off Altitude Sickness

Hikers who took the medication were less likely to have symptoms of 'acute mountain sickness'

2/9/2012
New Therapy Might Help Relieve Painful Foot Condition

Preliminary study suggests it could work in hard-to-treat cases of plantar fasciitis

1/5/2012
Drug Eases Gout Flare-ups in Some Patients: Study

Starting gout treatment can lead to flare-ups, this drug might help

1/3/2012
Spinal Manipulation, Home Exercise May Ease Neck Pain

Medication appeared least effective treatment in small study

11/23/2011
Health Tip: Don't Take Too Many NSAIDs

Painkillers' potential side effects include ulcer, stomach bleeding

10/28/2011
Daily Aspirin May Help Prevent Colon Cancer for Those at High Risk

People with Lynch syndrome, a hereditary form of cancer, might benefit from 2 tablets a day: study

10/24/2011
Can NSAIDs Cut Colorectal Cancer Deaths in Older Women?

Consistent use of aspirin, ibuprofen associated with about 30% lower death rate, study found

9/12/2011
NSAID Painkillers Linked to Risk of Kidney Cancer

However, risk of getting rare cancer is still small, experts say

9/6/2011
NSAIDs May Raise Miscarriage Risk: Study

Taking the painkillers in early stages of pregnancy more than doubled chances, researchers say

7/14/2011
Certain Painkillers May Raise Odds of Stroke, Heart Attack: Study

NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen, aspirin and other meds, might hike risks for heart patients, researchers say

7/5/2011
Painkillers May Raise Risk of Dangerous Heart Flutter

NSAIDS, cox-2 inhibitors have been associated with other cardiovascular problems, researchers say

5/16/2011
Health Tip: Painkillers May Cause Stomach Problems

Suggestions for how to protect yourself while using NSAIDs such as aspirin

5/10/2011
Chronic Tylenol Use May Be Linked to Blood Cancer, Study Suggests

Taking it most days of the week for years might increase risk, researchers say

5/9/2011
After Heart Attack, Certain Painkillers May Raise Risk for Recurrence

Even a week's worth of some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could be hazardous, study finds