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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs commonly used for the reduction of mild to moderate pain, inflammation, fever, and stiffness -- as well as for medical conditions related to pain and inflammation. They work by inhibiting the action of certain hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. A few common side effects include nausea, an unexplained rash, and stomach pain.

What Are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a class of medicines used to reduce:
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Inflammation
  • Fever
  • Stiffness.
They are also used to treat a number of medical conditions that cause pain and inflammation. Not all NSAIDs are approved for the same uses.
NSAIDs are available in both prescription and non-prescription strengths. They are also available in both brand-name and generic versions. NSAIDs may also be used alone or combined with other medications in several common cold, flu, and sinus products. These medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever that result from common cold symptoms, flu symptoms, or sinus problems.
(Click What Are NSAIDs Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

How Do They Work?

NSAIDs are thought to work by inhibiting the action of certain hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. These hormones are called prostaglandins.

Effects of NSAIDs

By blocking the effects of prostaglandins, NSAIDs are useful at reducing pain and inflammation related to bone, muscle, or tendon injury. These medications can also help reduce fever and alleviate pain or joint swelling associated with different forms of arthritis and other conditions.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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