In addition to corticosteroids, there are many other drugs to reduce inflammation. In particular, they include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, although the range of their use is not confined to alleviating inflammation. Below we will tell you about the essence of NSAIDs, their benefits and side effects.
What are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) belong to a class of medications that is very common today. Most NSAIDs relieve pain, hyperthermia & reduce inflammation. NSAIDs are also called “non-opioid analgesics”. This testifies that they are a specific type of painkillers different from opioid drugs (for example, morphine), which are used for reducing a more serious type of pain.
These drugs prevent interfere hormone-like active compounds – prostaglandins – from fermentation. An enzyme known as cyclooxygenase (COX) is responsible for the creation of these substances. The avaliability of prostaglandins is one of the most important factors of the development of inflammatory processes in the organism.
Various types of cyclooxygenase are known. COX-1 protects stomach tissues from the corrosive environment of digestive juices. COX-2 is involved in inflammatory reactions in the joints. Such popular NSAIDs as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen block both types of enzyme – both 1 and 2.
The most well-known NSAIDs include the following drugs:
- Aspirin. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicament. The key active substance is acetylsalicylic acid, which leads to the dilution of blood, thereby reducing intracranial pressure, normalizing body temperature and contributing to the reduction of inflammatory processes. According to the instructions, it is recommended to consume the medicine orally, after the main meal, without chewing and with plenty of water. The “cycle” shouldn’t exceed 5 days.
- Ibuprofen. This NSAID, which is a derivative of propionic acid, effectively inhibits the formation of prostaglandins, and has antipyretic, antiinflammatory & analgesic properties. In addition, ibuprofen reversibly inhibits platelet aggregation caused by ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and collagen. This means that it has a diluting effect. The drug is intended for short-term administration in the form of pills.
- Naproxen. It is a non-steroidal antiinflammatory med having great antiinflammatory effect. The active substance has the ability to decrease the activity of the enzyme named cyclooxygenase (we mentioned it above), which leads to the disturbance of prostaglandin synthesis. At the beginning of treatment and in acute conditions, adults are prescribed a daily dose of 500-1000 mg, the frequency of intake is 2 times a day (in the morning and in the evening). The maintenance dose is 500 mg a day in 1 or 2 dosages.
All of the above three meds are OTC in most countries. Other NSAIDs include such drugs as indomethacin (Indocin), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene), and others.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is usually not referred to as NSAID because it has weaker antiinflammatory actions. It reduces pain mainly by suppressing COX-2 primarily in the CNS, but not in the rest of the organism.
The use of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs
The meds can help in treating the following diseases:
1) Rheumatic diseases;
2) Non-rheumatic diseases of the musculoskeletal system;
3) Neurological diseases;
4) Renal, hepatic colic;
5) Pain syndrome of different etiology;
6) Fever (usually at body temperature above 38.5 ° C);
7) Prevention of arterial thrombosis.
It should be noted that they are counter indicated in occasions of erosion-like and ulcerative lesions of the stomach, especially if they are exacerbated, severe liver & kidney dysfunctions, cytopenia, individual intolerance, and during child-bearing (typically).
Side effects of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs
An important issue in prescribing NSAIDs is their safety. This is due to the fact that a significant number of patients, who need active analgesic therapy, have a high risk of complications that can develop in the stomach, other gastric and intestine organs, as well as the cardiovascular system. That is why when choosing NSAIDs, pharmacological properties of the medication and the specificity of the clinical situation should be taken into account.
NSAIDs may cause the following side effects:
- decreased appetite;
- increased risk of ulceration and the development of a heart attack.
By the way, on our site you can read about the side effects of steroids.
Some experts are very negative about NSAIDs. For instance, some of them believe that up to the age of 40 you should not use aspirin in the case of viral infections, only paracetamol. Its use can cause Ray’s syndrome. This is a severe dermal-hepatic-renal complication, which can result in a fatal outcome. Of course, this view is very radical. If these drugs were so dangerous, they would not have been over-the-counter. But nevertheless, they should be treated with some caution.
The bottom line on NSAIDs
A lot of NSAIDs are OTC medical remedies. That is, you can buy them at the pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. However, you should be careful when using them in particular if you suffer from gastrointestinal tract diseases (gastritis, ulcer of the stomach or duodenum) you are not recommended to take these drugs, as they can cause serious exacerbation. Therefore, consult your doctor before taking these drugs.