Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Uses, Types, and Considerations

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) play a crucial role in managing inflammation, pain, and fever. This article delves into their mechanism of action, uses, FDA-approved examples, side effects, and interactions.

Understanding NSAIDs

NSAIDs target prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body’s cells with diverse functions. While prostaglandins promote healing inflammation, they also induce pain and fever. NSAIDs inhibit the enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, responsible for prostaglandin production, reducing inflammation but potentially causing stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Uses of NSAIDs

NSAIDs are primarily prescribed for:

  • Inflammation
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Fever

Specific applications include treating headaches, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, sports injuries, and menstrual cramps.

Examples of FDA-Approved NSAIDs

The FDA has approved various NSAIDs, including:

  • Aspirin
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
  • Nabumetone (Relafen – discontinued brand)
  • Diflunisal (Dolobid – discontinued brand)
  • Etodolac (Lodine – discontinued brand)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Ketoprofen (Active-Ketoprofen [Orudis – discontinued brand])
  • Ketorolac (Toradol – discontinued brand)
  • Oxaprozin (Daypro)
  • Piroxicam (Feldene)
  • Salsalate (Disalsate [Amigesic – discontinued brand])
  • sulindac (Clinoril – discontinued brand)
  • Tolmetin (Tolectin – discontinued brand)
  • And others

Side Effects and Warnings

NSAIDs exhibit common side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, dizziness, and drowsiness. However, more critical adverse effects may include kidney and liver failure, ulcers, prolonged bleeding, and fluid retention leading to edema. Elderly patients face a higher risk of adverse events.

Differences Among NSAIDs

NSAIDs vary in potency, duration of action, elimination from the body, and their impact on COX-1 versus COX-2. Celecoxib is a selective COX-2 inhibitor, causing fewer ulcers and less bleeding. Aspirin, unique among NSAIDs, inhibits blood clotting for an extended period, making it effective for preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Drug Interactions

NSAIDs interact with several drugs, affecting their efficacy and safety. Interactions with diuretics, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, cyclosporine, and alcohol can lead to complications, emphasizing the need for cautious use.


NSAIDs, integral in managing pain and inflammation, come with benefits and risks. Users must be aware of potential side effects, drug interactions, and variances among NSAIDs. It’s crucial to follow medical guidance, report adverse effects promptly, and explore alternative NSAIDs if necessary. Consulting healthcare professionals ensures safe and effective NSAID use tailored to individual needs.

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