Anti-inflammatories, non-steroidal - Dosage

Before prescribing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), your GP will consider whether there is an alternative form of treatment that may be suitable. This will minimise your risk of having any side effects.

If your GP feels NSAIDs are the most appropriate form of treatment, they will prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time necessary.

It is better to prescribe a low dose over a short period of time and, if necessary, to gradually increase it. By doing this, any side effects should not be as severe.

Effects of specific NSAIDs

Your tolerance to different types of NSAIDs can vary greatly, as can your pain relief. While one type of NSAID may cause no side effects and be very effective, another type may not be as effective, or it may have an adverse effect on your gastrointestinal tract, heart, circulation or kidneys.

Therefore, before prescribing a different type of NSAID, your GP will carefully consider your individual circumstances and your likelihood of having any sort of reaction to the medicine. Do not switch between NSAIDs unless your GP agrees that it is safe for you to do so.


It is important to strictly follow all instructions about the recommended dosage for your particular NSAID. If you exceed the recommended dose, you risk experiencing adverse effects, which could be minor, moderate, or serious.

Minor effects of an overdose include:

  • upset stomach
  • skin irritation
  • drowsiness
  • tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)

Moderate effects of an overdose include brief seizures (fits), particularly with an NSAID called mefenamic acid.

If you think you or someone else is having mild or moderate effects of an NSAID overdose, contact your GP immediately for advice. If this is not possible, call NHS 111.

Serious effects of an overdose include:

  • prolonged and repeated seizures (fits)
  • serious breathing difficulties
  • loss of consciousness

A serious NSAID overdose is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is having serious effects of an NSAID overdose, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Dose is a measured quantity of a medicine to be taken at any one time, such as a specified amount of medication.
Inflammation is the body's response to infection, irritation or injury, which causes redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a feeling of heat in the affected area.

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