From Pain Relief to Inflammation Management: The Science Behind NSAIDs

Every day, thousands of people across the UK take NSAIDs, or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs to help manage pain and inflammation. These drugs can work wonders for people, but it is important to know what you are taking and why it works. The short term relief from NSAIDs can become a long term problem if your prescription and dose are not carefully monitored, so you need to know more to take good care of yourself.

How NSAIDs Help Manage Inflammation

NSAIDs work by blocking enzymes in the body called Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes. These help to make hormone-like compounds in our system called prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain. Blocking the enzymes reduces prostaglandin levels, and helps to manage both swelling and the sensation of pain in the body.

Some NSAIDs are available from pharmacies without being prescribed by a doctor, and some are only available on prescription. NSAIDs can be applied topically, directly to your skin, or be taken orally as a tablet. Though they perform the same function they work differently. Click here to explore the difference between topical and oral medications with HEMPE, who offers a range of ways to relieve muscle and joint pains and skin inflammation.

There is some debate among patients and doctors over topical vs oral medications. The overwhelming majority of patients who take NSAIDs never experience any side effects from short term use. Longer term treatments should always be under the supervision of a doctor to monitor any potential side effects caused by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.

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The Main Types Of NSAIDs

Many well known over the counter treatments are NSAIDs. Ibuprofen can be found on the shelves of supermarkets and bought cheaply. They can even be found in pound shops. People take them for headaches and muscle pain and the tablets, gels, and creams are all very effective ways to manage pain and inflammation. Prolonged use, over weeks or months, is not recommended and you should see a doctor if you find you are taking Ibuprofen regularly.

Other NSAIDs include Diclofenac, Celecoxib, Mefenamic acid, and Etoricoxib. These are usually prescribed by a doctor for inflammation and pain relief and the directions must be followed closely. Your doctor will also monitor your prescription to make sure you are not taking them for too long to reduce the chance of side effects.

Side Effect Of Taking NSAIDs For Long Periods

In rare cases after prolonged use NSAIDs can cause side effects in some people. These are always listed in the pamphlet that comes with the medication. Commonly experienced side effects include; 

  • Symptoms of indigestion like stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhoea
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Allergic reactions

Your doctor may adjust your dose or switch you to a different type of NSAID if you experience any side effects, so make sure you keep them in the loop. These drugs can transform the lives of people who suffer from chronic pain or inflammation. There are herbal and non-pharmaceutical treatments as well as other types of over the counter drugs available if you want to stop taking NSAIDs. 

However you choose to treat swelling and discomfort, always understand the medication you are taking and read about the side effects carefully.

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