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It isn’t uncommon to pop an aspirin or ibuprofen when you have the occasional ache or pain. And many people take these kinds of pain-relievers regularly, every day for months at a time. NSAIDs—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—lower inflammation, which can cause pain in the body. Aspirin (Bayer and Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), Celebrex, and other belong to this class of pain relievers.
But long-term use of these may actually pose a threat to your health. NSAID side effects include gastrointestinal problems, an increased risk for heart disease, and damage to the liver.
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NSAID Side Effects Can Be Serious
NSAIDs can cause a variety of health problems:
- Gastrointestinal problems. Probably the most well known side effect of NSAIDs is gastrointestinal problems. NSAIDs can damage the stomach and intestine, which can lead to bleedings like ulcers.[1,2] This is why you can’t take too much of an NSAID at once, because it increases your chances of damaging your stomach.
- Elevated blood pressure. Taking NSAIDs may increase your blood pressure or interfere with blood-pressure-lowering efforts. Studies show that NSAIDs make antihypertensive drugs less effective and that they may make people more prone to develop hypertension.
- Higher risk for cardiovascular events. It isn’t news that NSAIDs pose a threat to heart health. But new evidence shows that the risk for serious cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke is even greater than previously thought. The FDA has released a report stating that the warnings on labels need to be stronger, informing people that the longer and more often they use NSAIDs, the higher their chance of having heart attack and stroke becomes.
- Inhibited ovulation. A recent study showed that NSAIDs may interfere with ovulation, which may impact fertility. After only 10 days of NSAID treatment, the researchers found that ovulation occurred in only 6.3 percent, 25 percent, and 27.3 percent of women who were taking diclofenac, naproxen, and etoricoxib, respectively. This was compared to 100 percent of the control group. The women also experienced a drop in progesterone, a hormone needed for ovulation and fertility.
- Increased risk for falling. Another of the lesser-known NSAID side effects is that taking NSAIDs may increase fall risk in older adults. A review of 16 studies found that in the majority of studies, patients who used NSAIDS had a higher occurrence of falls compared to those who didn’t take the drugs.
Finding Natural Alternatives
Fortunately, there are many effective, safe, and all natural solutions to pain that can help you get your symptoms under control. Browse our extensive collection of blogs for help finding natural pain relief. Get started with this selection:
- The Best Supplements for Joint Pain, Part 1: The Top 5
- Devil’s Claw Benefits for Back Pain
- What is Arnica Montana? 4 Arnica Uses Include Pain Relief and More
- Meditation and Mindfulness Techniques for Chronic Pain Management
- Dysemnorrhea Remedies: Treat Severe Menstrual Cramps with Omega-3s
Share Your Experience
Have you ever experienced any of these side effects? What are your favorite natural alternatives for pain relief? Share your experience in the “Comments” section below.
Originally published in 2015 and updated.