NSAID Medications Explained

NSAID medications define a group of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs with analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects. That is, they reduce pain, fever and inflammation. They differ from most other analgesics in that they are non-narcotic. NSAIDs are normally used for the treatment of conditions where pain and inflammation are present.

Aspirin, formulized in 1853 by French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt, was the first NSAID drug created. It was not until 1899 that drug manufacturer Bayer coined the name aspirin and released it to the public. It is worth mentioning that folk remedies based on the bark of the white willow tree have been used since ancient times, and are chemically similar to aspirin. As well as aspirin, the other two popular NSAIDs are ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Most NSAID medications work by inhibiting a specific enzyme, thereby preventing the formation of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins control the sensitivity to pain and regulate inflammation. In simple terms, they reduce inflammation and sensitivity to pain by controlling enzyme production.

There have been many studies performed on the risk of using NSAID’s during pregnancy. One study, in particular, took a look at Danish women all throughout their pregnancy. It took note of those who used the drugs during the first few weeks up until the first trimester was over and it studied those who took the drug in their second and third trimesters. The study concentrated on acetyl salicylic acid. The researchers found that there was virtually no risk in the first part of pregnancy. There was not an increase in miscarriages nor were there any birth defects associated with taking the drug. Women who are pregnant are advised to not use any of these drugs during the latter part of their pregnancy. This is in part due to the risk of bleeding. New NSAIDs have not been thoroughly tested as of yet.

NSAIDs are associated with a number of side effects, the frequency of which varies between the drugs. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, rash, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. NSAIDs may also cause fluid retention. The most serious side effects are kidney failure, liver failure, ulcers and prolonged bleeding after an injury or surgery.

Although some NSAID medications are available over the counter from your local pharmacy, others need to be prescribed by a doctor due to their strength. Many folks buy the over the counter products and just take more but this is definitely not recommended. You could wind up overdosing on the medication because you are not sure of the correct dosage to take. It is always important to see a physician and let him or her know of any prescription or non-prescription drugs that you are taking.