Common Pain Killers May Not Worsen Ulcerative Colitis as Previously Thought

According to a story from, a recent data review is calling into question the previously held consensus that common pain medicines such as NSAIDs and paracetamol could make inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease worse. The standard of treatment currently suggests that NSAIDs should be completely off the table for people with these diseases.
Ulcerative colitis is classified as an inflammatory bowel disease which is characterized by ulcers and inflammation within the colon and rectum. Common symptoms are abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and fever. Symptoms generally appear gradually, and vary greatly in their severity. The disease appears to go through episodic flare ups that are separated by periods of no experience of symptoms. More severe complications include a greater risk of colon cancer, inflammation spreading to other areas, and megacolon. The disease may also cause more variable health problems throughout the body. It is an autoimmune disease, but the precise cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. There are genetic factors and environmental factors, such as diet, that may play a role. It has been suggested that dietary changes, such as a lactose free diet, could make symptoms less severe. To learn more about ulcerative colitis, click here.

The analytical review investigated the findings of a total of 18 different studies. It was clear that there was actually far less data that strongly supported the idea that NSAIDs made these conditions worse. When the review was broken down to studies that showed the lowest risk of bias, it appeared that there was still some degree of correlation for Crohn’s disease, but effectively none for ulcerative colitis.

The warning against using NSAIDs presents a challenges for patients with these diseases. After all, this class of drugs is among the most commonly available over the counter pain medications. The potential for exacerbation seems like a plausible one, as NSAIDs are known to increase the risk of digestive system bleeding and ulceration. Nevertheless, this new review suggests that there is much more research that is needed in order to completely determine if NSAIDs are harmful to patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis or not.

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