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Safe Use of Nsaids

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are medicines that are used to decrease pain, swelling, and fever. NSAIDs are available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs that you can buy without a doctor's order include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

How do I safely give NSAIDs to my child?

  • Read the directions on the label. Find out if the medicine is right for your child's age and how much to give to your child. The dose for your child's weight or age should be listed. Do not give your child more than the recommended amount.
  • Use the measuring tool that came with the medicine. Do not use another measuring tool, such as a kitchen spoon. Other measuring tools do not provide the right amount of medicine.

How do I safely take NSAIDs?

  • Read the directions on the label to learn how much medicine you should take and often to take it. Do not take more than the recommended amount.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you need take NSAIDs for more than 30 days. The longer you take NSAIDs, the higher your risk of side effects will be. You may need to take other medicines to decrease your risk of side effects such as stomach bleeding.
  • Do not take an over-the-counter NSAIDs with prescription NSAIDs. The combined amount of NSAIDs may be too high.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about other medicines you take. Some medicines can increase the risk of side effects from NSAIDs. Your healthcare provider will tell you if it is okay to take NSAIDs and how to take them.

Who should not take NSAIDs?

Certain people should avoid or limit NSAIDs. Do not give NSAIDs to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen. Talk to your healthcare provider before you take NSAIDs if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have reflux disease, a peptic ulcer, H pylori infection, or bleeding in your stomach or intestines.
  • You have a bleeding disorder, or you take blood-thinning medicine.
  • You are allergic to aspirin or other NSAIDs.
  • You have liver or kidney or disease.
  • You have high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • You have 3 or more alcoholic drinks each day.
  • You are pregnant.

What do I need to know about an NSAID overdose?

Certain health problems can occur if you take too much NSAID medicine at one time or over time. Problems include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. You may develop gastritis, peptic ulcers, and stomach bleeding. You may also develop fluid retention, heart problems, and kidney problems. NSAIDs can worsen high blood pressure. You may become confused, or you may have a headache, hearing loss, or hallucinations. An overdose of aspirin may also cause rapid breathing, a rapid heartbeat, or seizures.

What should I do if I think my child or I took too much NSAID medicine?

Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have swelling around your mouth or trouble breathing.
  • You are breathing fast or you have a fast heartbeat.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
  • You have blood in your vomit or bowel movements.
  • You have a seizure.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a headache or become confused.
  • You develop hearing loss or ringing in your ears.
  • You develop itching, a rash, or hives.
  • You have swelling around your lower legs, feet, ankles, and hands.
  • You do not know how much NSAIDs to give to your child.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.