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How to Safely Use NSAID Pain Relievers

How to Safely Use NSAID Pain Relievers

When Texas legend Red Adair capped an oil well fire, he detonated explosives to deprive the inferno of fuel. But when inflammation rages in your body, you may choose a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as COX-2 inhibitors (coxibs), ibuprofen, or naproxen to ease your pain. (Aspirin is also a NSAID, but more about it later.)

You may have heard how risky almost all NSAIDs are, especially if you regularly take high doses: They can cause gastrointestinal woes and cardiovascular complications such as heart attack.

Related: What are the Risks of Taking Too Much Ibuprofen?

The exception? We know aspirin offers protection from arterial diseases, including heart attack and stroke, as well as nine types of cancer. (You can help protect your GI tract from irritation by taking aspirin with a glass of warm water before and after.) But up to now no one had figured out the unique risks and benefits of the other NSAIDs. So it’s great news that, thanks to three major metastudies, there’s finally SOME credible info about those other NSAIDs differing qualities.

FDA Weighs In
High-dose coxibs, diclofenac, and ibuprofen may increase heart attack or stroke risk by about 33 percent. Heart failure risk is doubled with all non-aspirin NSAIDs.And an FDA panel evaluating NSAID risks voted 16 to 9 against the suggestion that naproxen causes fewer cardiovascular problems than other NSAIDs.

Figuring Out Your Options
So, if you’re taking a NSAID, talk to your doc about the risk vs. reward of specific medications. We like the pain-relieving powers of meditation and cognitive therapy, weight loss and appropriate exercise (whether your pain is from arthritis or another condition), and taking an anti-inflammatory DHA omega-3 supplement.

Related: Natural Ways to Manage Pain 

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