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Publication Date: May 2001
Revised September 2006
Lupus: A Patient Care Guide for Nurses and Other Health Professionals
Patient Information Sheet #12, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are often used to reduce pain and inflammation in patients who have mild systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Many different types of NSAIDs exist, some of which you can buy without a doctor’s prescription. These are called “over-the-counter” drugs. Examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs
include aspirin, Motrin® IB, Orudis KT®, and Aleve®. Tylenol® is not an NSAID and is not used to reduce the inflammation of lupus.
Although all NSAIDs appear to work in the same way, there are differences among them. Not every NSAID has the same effect on every person. Also, you may find that one NSAID works well for a while, then for some unknown reason, it doesn’t work well any more. Your doctor will probably switch you to a different NSAID to get the same helpful effects you had with the first one.
The brand name of your NSAID is ___________________________________.
The strength or dose of the NSAID ordered for you is __________________.
Take the NSAID ______ time(s) per day.
The best time(s) to take your NSAID:__________________
Possible Side Effects
These include upset stomach, headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, rash, itching, easy bruising, fluid retention, and blood in the stool.
You may use NSAIDs cautiously during pregnancy, but do not take them during the first 3 months of your pregnancy or just before delivery. NSAIDs appear in breast milk and should be used cautiously if you are breastfeeding.
Some patients taking NSAIDs become more sensitive to sunlight. Use sunblock and protective clothing; avoid exposure to sunlight.
Do not take more than the recommended dose.
Do not take NSAIDs with other drugs, including over-the-counter medications, without first checking with your nurse or doctor. Over-the-counter medications are medications that you can buy without a doctor’s prescription.
Recent studies of a couple of NSAIDs have suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular problems in people taking them on a long-term basis. As with any drug, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the potential risk of side effects.
Tell any nurse, doctor, or dentist who is taking care of you that you are taking NSAIDs for your lupus.
Since NSAIDs can cause stomach and intestinal upset and irritation, take them with food or after meals. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages, because alcohol can aggravate these stomach and intestinal problems. Check with your doctor for guidance on these issues.
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