NSAID Overdose: Are Your Patients Taking Too Much?

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


February 23, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most commonly taken meds. A new study[1] looked at dosing patterns of 1300 ibuprofen users to better understand how they take NSAIDs.

Participants completed a 1-week online diary which showed that 90% took over-the-counter ibuprofen. Moreoever, 37% of participants took another NSAID during that week (eg, aspirin or naproxen), and most didn't realize that they were taking multiple NSAIDs. Also concerning was that the data showed that 15% of NSAID users exceeded the dosage limit. They were taking more pills than recommended at one time.

Our patients may not realize that although NSAIDs are effective and easily available over the counter, these drugs can be dangerous. NSAIDs are linked to a higher risk for heart attack, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver damage, and other adverse effects.

Consider taking a moment to review with your patients their NSAID use—when is it appropriate to take them and when is it not? Also, caution them not to exceed the dosing recommendations on the label.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD


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