What Are Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (Nsaids)?

What is NSAID medicine and why you should be concerned about them. Hint, they're in your medicine cabinet right now.

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• Health: Food & Nutrition • Health: Medical
• Health: Natural Remedies

Matt Anderson's Take
With NSAID's in the news lately, you may be wondering what these are and what sort of dangers are associated with them.

What Are NSAID Medications?

NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. These may also be known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgescis (NSAIA's), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIM's). Clear as mud, right?

They're a class of drug that provides pain killing and fever reducing effects. In higher doses they can also provided anti-inflammatory effects. NSAID's are thought to be great pain relievers because they are non-narcotic and thus non-addictive.

In Plain English

Okay, you likely know NSAID's by household names like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Drugs like ibuprofen go by many brand names like Advil, Midol, and Motrin while naproxen is best known by the brand Alieve. These are all over the counter (OTC) medications that most of us have in our medicine cabinets right now.

What about acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol) you ask? Well, acetaminophen isn't considered to be an NSAID. That doesn't mean acetaminophen is free of risks though.

Here is a more complete list of NSAID's: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Naproxen, Meloxicam,Celecoxib, Indometacin, Ketorolac, Ketoprofen, Nimesulide, Etoricoxib,Piroxicam, Nabumetone, Etodolac, Salicylic acid, Mefenamic acid, Loxoprofen, Carprofen, Aceclofenac, Sulindac, Diclofenac sodium, Phenylbutazone, Flurbiprofen, Naproxen sodium, Dexketoprofen, Diclofenac / Misoprostol, Tenoxicam, Oxaprozin, Lornoxicam, Diflunisal, Flunixin, Benzydamine, Valdecoxib, Etofenamate, Dexibuprofen, Nepafenac, Felbinac, Tolmetin, Fenoprofen, Diclofenac potassium, Bromfenac, Tiaprofenic acid, Tolfenamic acid, Lumiracoxib, Phenazone, Salsalate, Deracoxib, Fenbufen, Oxyphenbutazone, Hydrocodone/ibuprofen

What Risks Do NSAID's Have

If you've heard about NSAID's in the news lately it's probably because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (also known as the FDA) recently strengthened an existing label warning that NSAID's increase the chance of a heart attack (see Heart Attacks & Solutions) or stroke. Yikes!

So, taking simple OTC pain killers can increase my risk of heart attack or stroke? Pretty scary stuff. But this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Just because a drug is cleared to be sold over the counter, without a prescription, doesn't mean it's safe. And on that note, prescription medicines also have tons of side effects. Medicine is a drug, and drugs are bad (mmmmkay children?). We should know this and accept this as a fact regardless of whatever propaganda we see from drug companies. Sure, drugs can certainly be wonderful things that free us of disease and pain. But, as a society, we abuse them and may be putting our health at more risk by using them than if we didn't. I'm not suggesting that you stop taking any medications you need to be on. But, at the very least, maybe a reduction in use is wise when possible?

Got a headache? Try increasing fluid intake and eating better, see Are Processed Foods Bad For Your Health? and Choosing A Diet Of The Healthiest Vegetables. Get some exercise to get your blood flowing. Get some fresh air and decrease your eye strain by leaving the computer for a while and stop staring at those tiny smartphone screens all day long. Maybe you're not sleeping very well, try reading 10 Ways To Sleep Better and The Secret To Falling Asleep Fast. Or maybe you need to be healthier but don't know how to start? Then try reading A Healthy Lifestyle - Where Do You Start?.

There are plenty of natural solutions that can reduce many types of pain so why do we always run to the medicine cabinet first? When medicine is needed, maybe you can make that headache go away with one aspirin instead of two? Over time, maybe you can further wean yourself off of OTC medications until you don't need them anymore, or at least very rarely.
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Matt Anderson
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