Painkillers and Gastritis

Alternatives to NSAIDs when you Have Gastritis

One of the first things people tell you to avoid when you have Gastritis is NSAIDS – (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These include drugs such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen.

They are often prescribed for pain relief and inflammation and are used by an estimated 30 million people worldwide every day.

But these drugs can cause irritation to the stomach lining and so need to be taken with caution and avoided completely if you already have issues like Gastritis.

Possible side effects from NSAIDs

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain with Diarrhoea and sickness

NSAID induced Gastritis

Not only are people often told to avoid them, but they are often also the cause of many Gastritis issues in the first place.

It’s not unusual for Doctors to prescribe NSAIDs for pain relief or anti-inflammatory reasons without giving any advice on avoiding stomach issues.

This was my experience a few years ago. I remember being given a course of quite strong painkillers when I had a knee problem, the course was for a month, and I was given a repeat prescription to use if I needed more. It was only after taking them for a few days that I started to have stomach discomfort, I didn’t really think it was the painkillers at this point and continued taking them. The stomach discomfort was starting to make me feel nauseous and I had lost my appetite. A day or so later and I knew the tablets were causing me issues and things always felt worse an hour or so after taking them.

So, I decided to stop taking them and just try and cope with paracetamol and heat compresses instead. The knee issue eventually improved but I was left with various stomach issues from that time on NSAIDs and it took me a long time to heal my stomach. So, from that moment on I have never gone near NSAIDs and have looked for alternatives that are gentler on the stomach.

Sometimes taking NSAIDs can lead to more serious issues. If you have any of the following symptoms seek medical help immediately.

  • Vomiting blood or a dark substance (It may look like Coffee granules)
  • Blood in your stool
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Feeling faint

Alternatives to NSAIDs

Paracetamol (In the UK) or Tylenol (USA) – These are not in the same group as NSAIDs and are generally much gentler on the stomach and are safer to take in moderation.

Topical pain relief in the form of gels and creams – These are great for muscle aches

Natural pain relief for gastritis

Arnica

Also known as wolf’s bane and leopard’s bane, it comes from the same flowering plant family as the sunflower. It is a herbal medicine that has been used to treat pain and inflammation for centuries. It is often used in cream or gel form but can also be taken as Homeopathic pills.

Turmeric

You may be more used to adding this to your curry, but this is a very popular supplement that has proved very successful for helping ease inflammation and pain, particularly in people with Arthritis. It contains the ingredient curcumin, and most people are ok taking it but for some Gastritis sufferers it can be an issue, so start off slowly if trying it.

Cloves

Cloves have an active ingredient called eugenol, it’s a natural pain reliever and perhaps most well-known for helping ease the pain of toothache. It is sometimes added to pain-relieving rubs, such as Tiger balm.

Shot of unhealthy young woman with stomachache using a hot water bag while sitting on the couch at home.

Natural creams and rubs

Tiger balm

As mentioned above, this amazing rub is brilliant for pain relief. I use it for headaches, backaches and well, any aches really. It contains Camphor, Levomenthol, Cajuput Oil, Clove Oil, and gives your skin a lovely warm sensation. It’s worth trying this before any oral medication, as sometimes it’s enough to relieve mild pain.

Tiger balm on Amazon

Heat wrap

I think this is one of the most underrated of the natural pain relievers. If I have back or neck ache, period pain etc the first thing I will try is always a heat wrap or hot water bottle. I literally couldn’t cope without it. Mine is a lavender filled wheat wrap and so it is relaxing and smells lovely too. This is the one I use Heat wrap with Lavender

Cold pack

The same as the heat wrap a cold pack can be so helpful for aches and pains as well as swelling. I often use cold gel packs for headaches, especially bad migraine type pain. I will lay down in a darkish room and place the gel pack on my forehead. It sometimes takes a while to work, but when it does it sort of numbs the pain, they are brilliant.

Lavender

There have been many studies where lavender has been shown to be as effective as some medications. It has anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties and can be applied topically for aches and pains or inhaled for relaxation, to help you sleep and headaches.

If you do need to take NSAIDs?

Sometimes you may need to take NSAIDs on your Doctors advice, if so take the following precautions and it may prevent you from having any subsequent stomach issues.

Take with a meal – Always take the tablets with a substantial meal, providing some protection to your stomach lining. Never take NSAIDs on an empty stomach!

Medication to protect your stomach – There are medications such as PPIs (Proton pump inhibitors) and H2 blockers that can be taken with NSAIDs to help protect your stomach, talk to your doctor about these options.

Avoid drinking alcohol with tablets – Although Alcohol is usually safe to have with NSAIDs, the Alcohol may irritate your stomach. So combined with the NSAIDs it can be a recipe for disaster. For more information on Alcohol and Gastritis, see my blog post here:- Missing Alcohol? What can I Drink with Gastritis?

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