Are you worsening your acid reflux by using common pain relievers? NSAIDs are common medications used by most everyone.

NSAIDS (pronounced en-said) (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), even though most people have never heard of the term, we all know these drugs well. They are pain relieving medications (analgesics), which also reduce inflammation and lower fevers. These drugs also reduce blood clotting action, which is good for some things and bad for others.

Common uses are; back ache, headaches, sprains and strains, menstrual cramps and arthritis.

Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Nabumetone are the generic names of these drugs.

Aspirin is made by several companies.

Ibuprofen: Motrin®, Advil®, Motrin IB®

Naproxen: Naprosyn®, Aleve®

Nabumetone: Relafen®

These are the most popular ones but there are many more.

NSAIDs work by preventing an enzyme from doing its job. The name of this enzyme is cyclooxygenase or COX, and it has two forms, COX-1 and COX-2.

COX-1 protects the stomach lining from digestive juices and helps maintain kidney function. COX-2 is produced when joints are injured.

Traditional NSAIDs block both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, this is how they ease pain and reduce inflammation. It’s also the reason they cause stomach upset. These drugs cause indigestion and stomach upset and shouldn’t be used by someone with heartburn or acid reflux. They also shouldn’t be used by someone with peptic ulcer history.

A recent advances with these drugs, ones that only target COX-2 enzymes, are supposed to be less likely to irritate the digestive system.

COX-2 Inhibitors

COX-2 Inhibitors are a new and different kind of NSAID. These drugs only target the COX-2 enzyme that stimulates the inflammatory response. They aren't supposed to cause the stomach problems that regular NSAIDs do because they don’t block the COX-1 enzyme that protects the stomach lining.

Celebrex®, Vioxx® and Bextra® are the brand names of these drugs. Note that as of this writing, Vioxx and Bextra were taken off the market by their manufacturers.

COX-2 inhibitors have their own side effects, among them are indigestion, nausea, abdominal pain and in rare cases abdominal bleeding. They should also not be taken with antacids. Some studies have not shown any difference in the side effects on the digestive system between traditional NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors.