Anti-inflammatory means preventing inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs are medications such as cortisone, aspirin, and ibuprofen. These drugs reduce the symptoms of inflammation, such as redness, swelling (edema), tenderness, pain, and fever.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that have analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects and have anti-inflammatory effects in high doses. The term nonsteroidal distinguishes these drugs from steroids, which have high anti-inflammatory effects. The three most important NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is generally not considered an NSAID because it has little anti-inflammatory activity.

Most NSAIDs inhibit the activity of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and thus inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins and thromboxanes. Inhibiting COX-2 provides anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects. NSAIDs that suppress COX-1 (especially aspirin) can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.

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