Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents/analgesics (NSAIAs) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIMs), are a drug class that groups together drugs that provides analgesic and antipyretic effects, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects.
The term nonsteroidal distinguishes these drugs from steroids, which, among a broad range of other effects, have a similar eicosanoid-depressing, anti-inflammatory action. As analgesics, NSAIDs are unusual in that they are non-narcotic and thus are used as a non-addictive alternative to narcotics.
The most prominent members of this group of drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, are all available over the counter in most countries.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is generally not considered an NSAID because it has only little anti-inflammatory activity. It treats pain mainly by blocking COX-2 mostly in the central nervous system, but not much in the rest of the body.
Most NSAIDs inhibit the activity of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and thereby, the synthesis of prostaglandins and thromboxanes. It is thought that inhibiting COX-2 leads to the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects and that those NSAIDs also inhibiting COX-1, particularly aspirin, may cause gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
These drugs play a major role in palliative care, being the 1st step on the WHO Analgesic Ladder, effective in relieving the pain of bone metastases, some capable of lowering temperature, different drugs being effectively orally, or by injection, or by suppository, or transdermally.
Adverse effects of these drugs are common: renal, coagulation, gastrointestinal, etc.
See reference for details.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet. Accessed on January 18, 2016.