Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a group of medicines that reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and lower temperature. They are extremely common, but they can have unwanted effects on the digestive system. Dr. Jerman, can you tell us more about the GI side effects of NSAIDs?
Well, Major Spencer, all NSAIDs work by blocking two types of enzymes. Some of these enzymes produce a chemical called prostaglandin, which protects the stomach lining from stomach acid and helps control bleeding. When NSAIDs block these enzymes, the intestinal lining is no longer protected by prostaglandins, and stomach acid is able to damage the lining in the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. This can result in ulcers anywhere in the esophagus, stomach, and intestinal tract.
About 50 percent of people taking NSAIDs have inflammation or ulcers, which can occur with even a single dose of medication.