Talking to Your Health Care Provider

Talking to Your Health Care Provider or Pharmacist About NSAIDs

You should always communicate with your health care provider (HCP) about all prescription and over the counter medications you are taking, how you are taking them, side effects, and other health-related topics that may help your HCP better manage your health.

Here are some topics to discuss with your HCP:

1. What is an NSAID and why do I need one?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a type of commonly taken medicine. You would take NSAIDs to relieve pain or to reduce fever or inflammation. Inflammation is when a part of your body is swollen, red, hot, hurting, and/or difficult to move.

2. Which products are considered NSAIDs?

There are various NSAIDs you can get as a prescription from your health care provider. Some are also available “over the counter” or OTC, which means that you do not need a prescription to take them.

While you may not know the word NSAID, you probably know some OTC NSAIDs better by their generic and brand names such as:

  • Ibuprofen, which is sold OTC under the brand names Motrin® and Advil®
    Naproxen Sodium (sometimes called Naproxen) which is sold OTC under the brand name Aleve®
  • Aspirin is also an NSAID

There are also other medications which may contain an NSAID.

3. What is the correct amount of medication to take?

The recommended amount of an NSAID is the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time required for symptom relief. Some people, such as those with chronic (long-term) pain, may need to take NSAIDs for a longer period of time. Always ask your HCP or pharmacist about how much medication you should be taking for your specific condition.

4. What are the possible side effects?

NSAIDs are helpful for reducing pain and inflammation but, like any medication, they may cause side effects.1Even commonly taken prescription and nonprescription medicines can have side effects. NSAIDs may affect your kidneys, heart, or digestive system (stomach, small intestines, colon, etc) and can lead to serious consequences.1,2 Remember to always ask your HCP about the possible side effects of any medication you are taking, including both OTC products and prescriptions.

5. Can I take an NSAID along with my other medications?

Many people take NSAIDs incorrectly because they do not talk to their HCP or their pharmacist about what they are taking. Before taking any medication, read and follow the label. If you take any OTC or herbal medications regularly, make sure you tell your HCP. You may find it helpful to take a written list of all your medications with you to your appointment.

6. Am I taking other NSAIDs and don't know it?

Since most NSAIDs are only referred to by the brand or generic name, people may not be aware that they are taking an NSAID or may accidentally take more than one NSAID at a time.1 There are also medicines that combine an NSAID with a different type of pain medication. If you take another OTC or prescription NSAID at the same time, you may increase the chances of side effects. Read and follow the label and ask your HCP or pharmacist if you have any questions.


  1. Wilcox CM, Cryer B, Triadafilopoulos G. Patterns of use and public perception of over-the-counter pain relievers: focus on nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. J Rheumatol. 2005;32(11):2218-2224.
  2. Lanas A, Garcia-Tell G, Armada B, Oteo-Alvaro A. Prescription patterns and appropriateness of NSAID therapy according to gastrointestinal risk and cardiovascular history in patients with diagnoses of osteoarthritis. BMC Med. 2011;9:38.
Advil is a trademark of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.
Motrin is a trademark of McNeil-PPC, Inc.
Aleve is a trademark of Bayer Healthcare LLC.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not replace the care of your health care provider.
Talk to your health care provider before you stop taking or change your medication.