What Are the Different Types of NSAIDs?

A. Reed

The different types of nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) include common over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Others require a prescription in many jurisdictions, including celecoxib, ketoprofin, meclofenamate and oxyaprozin. NSAIDs typically are indicated for pain, fever and inflammation caused by colds, flu and arthritis. They also have an anti-coagulating affect, preventing the formation of blood clots. Drug action occurs by preventing the enzyme cyclooxygenase from producing prostaglandins, which are responsible for the pain and inflammation one experiences when injured.

Aspirin is one type of NSAID.
Aspirin is one type of NSAID.

Celecoxib, ketoprofin, meclofenamate and oxyaprozin generally are prescribed for the relief of swelling, inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. These drugs are more specifically indicated for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. They also are used for painful or heavy menstruation. Celecoxib is available in capsules; ketoprofin is available in tablet, capsule and extended-release formulations; meclofenamate comes in capsule form; and oxyaprozin is available as tablets.

Ibuprofen is considered a NSAID medication.
Ibuprofen is considered a NSAID medication.

All NSAIDs work by suppressing cyclooxygenase production, but they differ in strength. Ketorolac is one of the most potent and is generally indicated for severe pain. NSAIDs also differ in how long they last. Some are referred to as selective cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitors, which are a type of NSAID acting only on COX-2, one of the two types of cyclooxygenase enzymes. Celecoxib is an example of a selective COX-2 inhibitor.

Certain people should not use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or must do so with caution under the care of a physician. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should notify their doctor before taking NSAIDs. People who have a history of asthma, liver or kidney disease or are over the age of 65 also should should notify their doctor before taking NSAIDs.

A person who takes NSAIDs over a long period of time might develop ulcers, which are characterized by burning pain in the abdominal area, nausea and vomiting. Ulcers bleed, which can lead to an intestinal perforation or complete obstruction of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This might occur without any noticeable symptoms. It is essential for patients and their doctors to be mindful of any previous history of ulcers, because this is a risk factor for developing GI complications in association with taking these drugs.

For some patients, taking NSAIDs regularly has important benefits despite the risks. Aspirin taken daily decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have renal disease and hypertension. Patients who are on aspirin therapy are regularly monitored by a physician.

Many NSAIDs also boast fever-reducing capabilities.
Many NSAIDs also boast fever-reducing capabilities.

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