By Isabella Sorresso

The way doctors and nurses talk about medicine and the way the rest of us non-doctors talk about medicine can be very different, but sometimes it is nice to know what it all means.

NSAID may seem like a confusing acronym for some treatment you have never heard of, and while it stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, it just means it is a common over-the-counter pain medication. If you have ever taken Advil or Motrin, you have taken an NSAID.

Breaking down the scientific language, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug means that it is not a steroid, and is used to temporarily alleviate pain and inflammation, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Common NSAIDs include four main types of medications: ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin), Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox DS, Naprosyn) and Celecoxib (Celebrex). NSAIDS do their job at pain relief by blocking the production of prostaglandins in your body, which are believed to cause inflammation, pain and fever.

While there are always risks and potential side effects to taking any sort of medicine, NSAIDs are generally safe to take on occasion. However, the FDA stresses the importance of understanding that prolonged use of NSAIDs can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke. Taking an NSAID, excluding Aspirin, continually for as little as just a few weeks can already put you at risk.

If you were to take an NSAID occasionally, the small recommended dosage should not be harmful enough to bring on these risks. However, combining NSAIDs with other prescription medication can be dangerous if the two don’t work well together in the body. Because of this, it is important to always mark any NSAIDs you are taking continually as a medication on paperwork at the doctor’s office so they don’t prescribe you something that could be potentially harmful.
The bottom line is that NSAIDs are fine for most people to take periodically, but if you feel that you need to take an NSAID on more than an as-needed basis, please consult your doctor first.