Treatments for inflammation and pain
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are a type of pain relief medication that are used for pain from muscle injuries, gout, arthritis, headache, dental pain and period pain. NSAIDs are also used to reduce fever (e.g. Nurofen liquid for children).
While it is usually safe to take anti-inflammatories for a short time to reduce inflammation and pain NSAIDs have side effects and may not be suitable for people with stomach problems, asthma, heart, liver or kidney problems. Before taking NSAIDs, check with your pharmacist or doctor if they are suitable for you.
Many NSAIDs can be bought from your pharmacy without a prescription e.g. Nurofen, Voltaren
Some pain medicines contain both an NSAID + Paracetamol (e.g. Nuromol, Maxigesic)
NSAIDs are usually available as tablets or capsules, some are available as a syrup and some are available as gels (e.g. Voltaren Emulgel)
Aspirin is also an NSAID (e.g. Aspro, Dispirin) but it is mainly prescribed in low doses to help to keep the blood from clotting, such as for people who have had a heart attack in the past for example, Aspec®, Cartia®, Cardiprin®.
NSAIDs – how to choose?
Ibuprofen (Nurofen) is the most commonly used anti-inflammatory, and Diclofenac (Voltaren) can also be purchased without a prescription in lower strengths.
While most people will find any NSAID helpful, some people may find that one NSAID works better than another for them. Some NSAIDs need to be taken more often than others.
All NSAIDs are associated with side effects but some NSAIDs have fewer side effects and may be preferred to others.
The common side-effect is stomach irritation, and this can be reduced by taking your dose with food.
NSAIDs can generally be safely used by most people when used in low doses for a short-term pain relief. But because many people take NSAIDs daily for months or years to relieve chronic pain (such as arthritis and low back pain), it is especially important to watch out for side effects.
Nurofen Zavance Tablets are absorbed faster than standard Nurofen tablets.
The Zavance formulation is absorbed into your bloodstream up to twice as fast as standard ibuprofen.
Nurofen Zavance is available as Tablets, Caplets and Liquid capsules.
Risks of NSAIDs:
- Stomach - NSAIDs can sometimes affect the stomach and cause stomach problems. These can occur in anybody taking NSAIDs, but you are more likely to have them if you have had stomach ulcers before, take NSAIDs regularly and take higher doses of NSAIDs, are 60 years or older, drink alcohol often, smoke, or are taking some other medicines that may affect the stomach. Read more about the risks of NSAIDs.
- Heart - Studies have shown that all NSAIDs, except aspirin in low doses, can increase the chance of heart attack or stroke. The risk may be greater if you have heart disease or you have risk factors for heart disease. Heart problems caused by NSAIDs can happen within the first weeks of starting them. Read more about the risks of NSAIDs.
- Kidneys - All NSAIDs affect the way your kidneys work. You're more likely to have kidney problems with NSAIDs if you are dehydrated, are 60 years or older, already have problems with your kidneys and are taking other medicines that also affect your kidneys such as ACE inhibitors ARBs, or diuretics.
- Blood pressure - NSAIDs can raise blood pressure in some people. Some people with high blood pressure (hypertension) may have to stop taking NSAIDs, if they notice that their blood pressure increases even if they are taking their blood pressure medications and following their diet. If you are taking blood pressure medication, talk to your healthcare provider before taking NSAIDs.
- Asthma - NSAIDs can cause symptoms of asthma to worsen such as cough, wheezing, shortness of breath. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking NSAIDs if you have asthma.
- Pregnancy - NSAIDs may increase the risk of miscarriage if used in early pregnancy. NSAIDs should also be avoided during the third trimester because they may affect the large blood vessels of the developing baby. It is generally recommended to avoid the use of NSAIDs during pregnancy unless the benefit justifies the risk.