Steroid drugs used in the treatment of inflammation are a derivative of a natural hormone produced by the body called cortisol. NSAIDs work to block the effect of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This enzyme is critical in your body’anti inflammatory drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis production of prostaglandins. It is prostaglandins that cause swelling and pain in a condition such as arthritis or bursitis.
Therefore by interfering with the function of cyclooxygenase, you decrease the production of prostaglandins, and decrease pain and swelling associated with these conditions. Well, there’s more to it. Prostaglandins also have other important functions in the body. When people take NSAID medications, the production of this protective fluid can be diminished, and some people are at risk for developing stomach ulcers. COX-2, and allow COX-1 to function normally. NSAIDs are believed to have less of a risk of causing stomach ulcers. That said, the newer NSAIDs have not been shown to work any better against the COX-2 enzyme.
Therefore, the COX-2 inhibitors have the benefit of possibly having fewer side-effects, but not necessarily better relief from symptoms. NSAIDs can be obtained over-the-counter, but that does not mean they are with out potentially serious side-effects. The most common side-effect is irritation of the stomach. The cause of this is thought to be due to the effect on the stomach lining.
Before you start taking NSAID medications you should talk to your doctor. Be sure to let your doctor know about other medical problems you have, especially hypertension, asthma, kidney, or stomach problems. In addition, let your doctor know other medications you may be taking, and if you have any known allergies to medications. Bottom Line: Are NSAIDs Safe? Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are very safe and can be very effective. Often effects can be achieved with use for a relatively short duration of time.
That said, these medications do have possible side effects and cannot be used by every individual. While most people with a condition that causes inflammation can find NSAIDs to be helpful, you should always discuss with your doctor if you are thinking of starting one of these medications. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 Issue 1. Back or Neck Pain Medication — What Can Over the Counters Do For You?
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