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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a group of medications commonly used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. They work by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body called prostaglandins, which are responsible for causing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
NSAIDs are available over-the-counter and by prescription, and can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including headache, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, arthritis, and other types of pain.
Common examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and meloxicam. These medications can be taken orally, topically (as a cream or gel), or injected.
While NSAIDs are generally safe and effective when used as directed, they can have side effects, particularly when used long-term or in high doses. Common side effects may include stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. More serious side effects may include stomach ulcers or bleeding, kidney problems, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
To minimize the risk of side effects, it is important to take NSAIDs only as directed, and to follow any instructions provided by a healthcare provider or on the medication label. People who are at increased risk for certain side effects, such as those with a history of stomach ulcers or heart disease, may need to avoid NSAIDs or use them with caution.
NSAIDs should also be used with caution in certain populations, including elderly individuals, those with kidney disease or liver disease, and pregnant women. In some cases, alternative pain management strategies may be recommended.
It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new medication, including NSAIDs, to discuss potential risks and benefits, and to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs.
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