You may have seen commercials on television for Celebrex, but what is it? Celebrex is a pain reliever that doctors prescribe for a variety of conditions, most commonly arthritis. Are Celebrex side effects serious? And if you're already taking Celebrex, what should you look out for?
All medications have some side effects that present in a small percentage of patients. Some Celebrex side effects can be mild or moderate, while others are more serious. Many patients experience no side effects at all. What side effects you may experience depend largely on your medical history, allergy history, and your specific medical conditions. Doctors will prescribe medication if they believe that the positives of the treatment outweigh any potential negatives. However, it is important to recognize when what you're experiencing could be a sign of something more serious and when to discuss these symptoms with your doctor.
What Is Celebrex?
Celebrex is the brand name for celecoxib, which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Why Do Doctors Prescribe It?
Doctors prescribe Celebrex to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and menstrual pain. It is also used to treat juvenile arthritis in children at least two years old. The FDA has also approved Celebrex to treat polyps that grow in the colon and rectum in people with a condition called familial adenomatous polyposis.
How Does It Work?
Celebrex works by stopping the production of COX-2, a natural substance in the body that causes pain and inflammation. (Celebrex may be referred to in some cases as a COX-2 inhibitor, as well as an NSAID.) The relief provided by this medication helps patients to perform more of their daily activities.
Before Taking Celebrex
It is important to have an open discussion with your doctor before taking any medication so that your doctor is aware of any potential issues that may arise. Always tell your doctor if you have allergies to any medications. You may not be able to take Celebrex if you have had allergic reactions to other NSAID medications or drugs called sulfonamides. You also may not be able to take Celebrex if you've ever had hives or asthma after taking aspirin or another NSAID.
You should give your doctor a full medical history, and tell your doctor if certain conditions or situations apply to you, such as
heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding
liver or kidney disease
You should also let your doctor know whether you smoke as this can also affect what Celebrex side effects you may experience. If you are a woman, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or may be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Taking Celebrex during the last three months of pregnancy may harm the unborn baby, and the drug can pass into breast milk.
Dosing - How to Take Celebrex
Always take medications as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on the prescription label and do not take in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than recommended.
Celebrex can be taken either with or without food. You can take Celebrex with food to reduce the chance of stomach upset. To make swallowing easier, you can try opening the capsule and sprinkling the medication into a spoonful of applesauce. Swallow right away without chewing and discard the empty capsule. If you don't take the mixture right away, store it in the refrigerator and take it within six hours. Take Celebrex with a full glass of water unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Do not lie down for at least ten minutes after taking your dose.
For certain conditions, like arthritis, it may take up to two weeks of regular doses before you notice full results. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's almost time for your next dose of Celebrex. In that case, take your regular dose and skip the dose you missed.
If you are taking Celebrex on an "as needed" basis instead of on a regular schedule, remember that pain medications work best if they are used at the first signs of pain. If you wait until the pain has worsened, the medication may not be as effective.
Celebrex Side Effects
If you are taking or about to take Celebrex, what side effects might you experience? When should you tell your doctor if you experience side effects?
A good rule of thumb is to talk to your doctor if you experience side effects that impair your normal functioning and your ability to live your daily life. Even if the side effect is not serious, your doctor may be able to give you some advice on how to deal with it. If you are experiencing side effects and they are getting worse, you should tell your doctor.
Most importantly, you should know the signs of serious or life-threatening side effects, and tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of them.
Celebrex has proven effective in treating inflammation and pain in patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, joint damage, and painful menstrual cramps. When deciding on an appropriate treatment the patient and doctor must weigh the benefits of the medication against the risks associated with it. All medications have possible adverse effects associated with them, and it is important to discuss these effects with your doctor.
People who have chronic pain may need to take Celebrex daily. However, patients who have intermittent pain may also find Celebrex effective when taken, on an "as needed" only basis.
Common Celebrex Side Effects
Common Celebrex side effects may include
- stomach pain, indigestion, gas, or diarrhea
- swelling in the hands or feet
- inability to sleep
- cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, or a sore throat
These Celebrex side effects are not as common, but they can be serious. Stop using Celebrex and call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following side effects as they can indicate a more serious condition:
- the first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild
- chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, or vision or balance problems
- swelling or rapid weight gain
- bloody or tarry stools
- coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- nausea, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- dark urine
- skin reactions or bruising
- numbness, tingling, or weakness in the muscles
- skin pain followed by a red or purple rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling
A very serious allergic reaction is rare, but you should get medical help immediately if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including fever, a rash or hives, swollen lymph nodes, itching or swelling, severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.
There are two important warnings you should be aware of before taking Celebrex:
1. Celebrex can increase your risk of fatal heart attack or stroke, especially if you use it long term or take high doses, or if you already have heart disease. Even people without heart disease or risk factors could potentially have a stroke or heart attack while taking this medication. You should not take Celebrex just before or after heart bypass surgery.
2. Celebrex side effects may also include stomach or intestinal bleeding or stomach perforations, which can be fatal. You may be at higher risk of you are elderly, drink a lot of alcohol, smoke, or take any blood-thinning medications. You may also be at a higher risk of you have a history of ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding. For these reasons, you should not take Celebrex if you already have bleeding in your stomach or intestines.
In some cases, patients may have an allergic reaction to Celebrex. Symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, wheezing or trouble breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat. If you believe you are experiencing an allergic reaction, get emergency medical help immediately.
Additionally, if you have signs of a heart attack or stroke, you should get emergency medical help. These signs include chest pain spreading to the jaw or shoulder, sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, and shortness of breath.
Drink plenty of water while taking Celebrex. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Celebrex as it can increase your risk of stomach bleeding.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other cold, allergy, or pain medication while taking Celebrex. Many medicines available over the counter contain medicines similar to the active ingredient in Celebrex and taking certain products together can cause you to get too much of this type of medication in your system. Check the label to see if a medicine contains aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, or naproxen, as these may increase your risk of side effects if taken with Celebrex.
All medications may produce side effects. Celebrex side effects are generally not life-threatening, but may in rare cases be serious. If you believe you are having an allergic reaction to any medication, seek immediate medical help. If you have any questions about the benefits or side effects of any medication, always talk to your doctor. They are your best resource for helping you live your healthiest life.