Prostaglandin inhibitors are drugs that act on lipid compounds known as prostaglandins, found throughout the body to regulate muscle contractions and related activities. The body produces them locally, and while they are chemical messengers, they are not classified as hormones. People may take these inhibitors to address issues like muscle pain, premature labor, and muscle soreness. A common example of a prostaglandin inhibitor is aspirin.
These medications can work in several different ways. Some deactivate prostaglandins, forcing the body to produce more. People can keep taking the medication or take a time-release drug for long-term inhibition, if necessary. Other drugs may encourage the body to produce molecules to block the action of prostaglandins, upping the body's ability to inhibit the compounds. These medications are associated with nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal problems in some patients.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) also inhibit prostaglandins, as do corticosteroids used to treat inflammation. Aspirin and ibuprofen also fall into this class, as do cox-2 selective inhibitors, which target specific compounds with the goal of reducing side effects. Many of these medications are available over the counter, especially in mild forms, allowing people to treat themselves for minor muscle pain.
These drugs are available to treat a variety of problems. Uterine cramping is commonly addressed with prostaglandin inhibitors in people with severe menstrual cramps and women who are going into premature labor. Sometimes the drugs can stop or slow labor, giving the baby more time to develop. The drugs can also be useful for patients after miscarriages and therapeutic abortions, as they may experience severe uterine cramping and bleeding. Muscle strain, inflammation, and tension can all be treated with prostaglandin inhibitors to relax the muscle and make the patient feel more comfortable.
There are some risks associated with prostaglandin inhibitors. Taking them in the long term can have an adverse effect on heart function and may cause problems like stomach ulcers. They can also lead to liver damage, as the liver may have trouble metabolizing the medication, especially if taken at high doses for a long time. Patients who experience a bad reaction to one drug may want to discuss alternatives with a doctor to see if other options are available. The doctor can also discuss the safe, long-term use of drugs like aspirin with the patient, to reduce the risks of complications and make sure the patient is aware of the early warning signs of bad reactions.