Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are drugs used for the treatment of pain and inflammation. In lower doses their main effect is to reduce pain and they are similar in potency to paracetamol. In higher and repeated doses they also have an anti-inflammatory effect which makes them useful for continuous or recurring pain and inflammatory conditions such as some forms of rheumatism and gout.

Unfortunately NSAIDs are more likely to cause side effects (particularly in the elderly) than paracetamol.

The most common side effects related to NSAIDs involve the stomach and gut, and include nausea, diarrhoea, and occasionally bleeding, and ulceration. Other side effects include rashes, headache, dizziness, and wheezing, kidney damage is another possible side effect.

If you suffer from asthma, indigestion or have had ulcers you must discuss treatment with your doctor before commencing your medication.

There are a large number of different NSAIDs (including aspirin and ibuprofen) and it may occasionally be necessary to try more than one before a suitable preparation is found.

Further information

This article published on
28 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


Treatment and drugs

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