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Diclofenac sodium

Diclofenac sodium

Overview

Voltaren is a pain reliever used for arthritis. It belongs to a class of medications commonly called NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other medicines in this category include over-the-counter analgesics like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) and naproxen (Aleve) as well as prescription arthritis pills such as Lodine, Naprosyn or Relafen.

Side Effects and Interactions of Voltaren

Unquestionably the most common side effects of Voltaren involve the gastrointestinal tract. They include nausea, indigestion, heartburn, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.

Some people may develop ulcers and intestinal bleeding while taking Voltaren. Occasionally these problems can occur without obvious symptoms and lead to a life-threatening crisis due to perforation of the stomach lining. Older people appear to be more susceptible to this problem and should be monitored carefully. Warning signs include weight loss, persistent indigestion, a feeling of fullness after moderate meals, dark or tarry stools, anemia and unusual fatigue. Home stool tests such as Hemoccult or Fleet Detecatest may provide an early indication of bleeding.

Other side effects to be alert for include headache, ringing in the ears, rash, itching, and fluid retention. Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and confusion are possible, so do not drive if you become impaired.

Less common adverse reactions include jitteriness, insomnia, difficulty breathing, hair loss, depression, changes in appetite, hearing loss, visual disturbances, sores in the mouth and heart palpitations. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Voltaren can affect both the kidney and liver, so periodic blood tests to monitor the function of these organs are important.

Some people become sensitive to sunlight while on Voltaren, so use an effective sunscreen, stay covered or avoid the sun.

This medication can interact with many other drugs including aspirin, alcohol, certain blood pressure pills, and the ulcer medicine Pepcid.

A person taking a blood thinner like Coumadin may become more vulnerable to a dangerous bleeding ulcer.

All the NSAIDs, including Voltaren, can make methotrexate (Folex, Mexate, Rheumatrex), lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, etc.) and Lanoxin far more toxic.

When Voltaren is combined with Sandimmune the risk of kidney damage is increased.

Because of a possible risk of hemmorhage, we advise against combining ginkgo biloba extract with this medicine.

Check with your pharmacist and physician to make sure Voltaren is safe in combination with any other drugs you take.

Special Precautions

People who are allergic to aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents should avoid Voltaren. Signs of allergy include breathing difficulties, rash, fever, or a sudden drop in blood pressure and require immediate medical attention.

Taking the Medicine

Because Voltaren can be hard on the digestive tract, it may be taken with food to reduce tummy trouble. This does not, however, guarantee that the drug will be safe for the stomach.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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