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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires NSAIDs to be labeled with a strong message about the risks they pose. Detailed risk information warns potential users that:
The warnings also apply to prescription NSAIDs, including diclofenac (Voltaren®) and celecoxib (Celebrex®). Your doctor might prescribe these for chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions.
The warnings do not apply to aspirin, even though it belongs to this class of drugs. If you take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes, taking another NSAID might decrease the protection you get.
The warnings don’t mean you should never take these drugs. They are still effective treatments for pain, inflammation and fever. People with heart problems or high blood pressure should talk with their doctor before using them.
Read all drug labels carefully. Many multi-symptom cold medicines also contain NSAIDs, so make sure you don’t take a double dose unintentionally.
If you do take NSAIDs, seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of a heart problem or stroke. These include sudden chest pain, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech or trouble breathing.
You can read more about the NSAID warning on the FDA website.
Originally published 2/4/2016; Revised 2019, 2021
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