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What should I know before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you take an NSAID, you should be cautious about drinking alcohol.

The risk of side effects of NSAIDs is greater in older people. If you are over 65, you should not take indomethacin, and you should avoid long-term use of any NSAID.

It is not known if diclofenac is safe or effective for children.

NSAIDs can cause severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm in people with aspirin-sensitive asthma. People with aspirin-sensitive asthma should not take NSAIDs.

If you have a bleeding or platelet disorder, you should not take aspirin.

NSAIDs increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke, which may be fatal. This risk increases with length of NSAID use. 

If you have had a peptic ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart failure, or impaired kidney function, an NSAID may not be a good option for you.

If you have high blood pressure, an NSAID may not be a good option for you. 

If you have impaired liver function, NSAIDs can lead to serious side effects.

If you have a psychiatric condition or Parkinson disease, indomethacin may not be a good option for you.

If you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning a pregnancy, an NSAID may not be a good option for you. It is not known if they are safe for pregnant women. You should not take an NSAID during the last trimester of pregnancy.

NSAIDs may be passed into breast milk and may not be a good option for breastfeeding women.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.