Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil®), Nuprin® and Motrin®. All are available without a doctor's prescription. These drugs are usually the first used for relieving pain, swelling, redness and stiffness that affects joints or bones. For mild to moderate pain, these may be all that is needed. They can have side effects including:

  • Bleeding in the stomach or intestines (If you have had stomach ulcers, you should talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs)
  • Changes in the ability to think, reason and be oriented (cognitive changes)
  • Fluid retention
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney damage
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Ulcers

A class of NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors, has been found to potentially increase users' risks of heart attacks and strokes. These pain-relieving drugs had been widely prescribed because they were not likely to produce stomach ulcers and had fewer complications than other types of NSAIDs. COX-2 inhibitors included:

  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx®), which has been taken off the market
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex®), which has new package information to alert users to the potential for increased risk of heart attack and stroke, by order of the Food and Drug Administration
  • Valdecoxib (Bextra®), which has been taken off the market after research indicated that it put users at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, among other conditions, without providing benefits greater than other readily available NSAIDs

If you are or have taken these drugs, talk to your doctor about their potential impact on your health.