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It is estimated that one-third of all adults suffer from some form of arthritis. Both the over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription forms of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are commonly used to treat arthritis.

The widespread availability of NSAID may result in patients taking more than one form of the drug at a time because of inadequate pain relief or not being aware that the pain relief drugs are of the same class. Often, health care providers are unaware that a patient is taking more than one form of a NSAID.

Taking multiple forms of NSAIDs are known to lead to gastrointestinal problems. What is not known is there is a relationship between patients taking more than one NSAID and their health-related quality of life.

Stacey H. Kovac, Durham VA Medical Center and Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, studied 138 patients who filled at least one NSAID prescription. He found that 26% of the participants were dual NSAID users (prescription, OTC, or both). Dual users were associated with the worse scores on the health survey.

Researchers stress that little is known about patients who take multiple NSAIDs. The use of OTC NSAIDs¬†compounds the problem because its use is rarely discussed during doctor visits–even though taking high doses of NSAIDs raises safety concerns. They suggest that physicians keep a complete list of a patient’s medications and help the patient understand the dangers of taking more than one NSAID.