NSAIDs and Stomach Ulcers: What You Need to Know

NSAIDs Stomach

and Health

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. However, people can develop a condition called gastrointestinal ulcer from taking NSAIDs for a prolonged period of time. Understanding the risks associated with NSAIDs and how to reduce the chance of developing an ulcer can help protect your health.

What Are NSAIDs and How Do They Work?

NSAIDs are drugs that work by reducing the hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. They are commonly used for arthritis, headaches, and other joint and muscle pain. Some of the most common NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. NSAIDs are available over-the-counter and by prescription.

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What Is a Stomach Ulcer?

A stomach ulcer is a sore or lesion in the lining of your stomach, small intestine, or esophagus. Stomach ulcers are caused by damage to the tissue, usually by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori or by taking certain medications, such as NSAIDs. Symptoms of a stomach ulcer include nausea, vomiting, indigestion, abdominal pain, and appetite loss.

Risks of Taking NSAIDs and the Risk of Stomach Ulcers

Long-term use of NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing a stomach ulcer. This is because these drugs reduce the production of protective mucus that lines the stomach and helps to protect it from stomach acid. Without enough protective mucus, the stomach acid can cause irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining. Symptoms of a stomach ulcer caused by taking NSAIDs include abdominal pain, vomiting, and unintentional weight loss.

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How to Lower the Risk of Developing a Stomach Ulcer

To reduce your chances of developing a stomach ulcer, follow these tips:

  • Only take NSAIDs for a short period of time and at the lowest dose possible for symptom relief.
  • If your doctor prescribes you an NSAID, ask about other treatments you can take alongside it to lessen the risk of developing an ulcer.
  • If you take aspirin, use the lowest dose possible and take it with food.
  • Do not take more than one NSAID at a time.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about taking NSAIDs.


NSAIDs can be effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and fever, but they can also increase your risk of developing a stomach ulcer. To reduce the risk of developing an ulcer, it is important to take the lowest dose of NSAIDs for the shortest amount of time possible and to talk to your doctor about other treatments you can take alongside it.