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Lodine (generic name nambutone) belongs to a class of medications commonly called NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is prescribed for both short-term and long-term treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pain relief begins relatively quickly, but the full benefits of Relafen’s ability to fight inflammation may take a week or two to set in.

Relafen is converted by the liver into the compound that actually provides relief.

Side Effects and Interactions

Unquestionably the most common side effects of Relafen involve the gastrointestinal tract.

They include diarrhea, indigestion and stomachache. Constipation, gas and nausea are not unusual. Some people may develop ulcers and intestinal bleeding while taking any NSAID.

Although Relafen may be somewhat less likely to cause such complications, the risk remains. 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 dizziness, headache, fatigue, rash, itching, fluid retention and ringing in the ears.

Less common complications include dry or sore mouth, vomiting, increased sweating, drowsiness, insomnia and nervousness.

Do not drive if you become impaired due to insomnia or sleepiness. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Relafen can affect both the kidney and liver, so periodic blood tests to monitor the function of these organs are important for anyone on this drug long-term.

This medication may interact adversely with certain other drugs.

In clinical trials it was used successfully with gold, penicillamine and corticosteroids in treating rheumatoid arthritis, but this therapy should be supervised by an experienced physician.

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

Aspirin interferes with the effectiveness of other NSAIDs for reducing inflammation, although it is not clear whether this is true of Relafen.

Most NSAIDs can make methotrexate (Folex, Mexate, Rheumatrex), lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, etc.) and Lanoxin far more toxic and this possibility should be considered for Relafen.

When Relafen is combined with Sandimmune the risk of kidney damage may be increased.

Relafen is still a relatively new drug and more interactions may become apparent as clinical experience accumulates.

Ask your doctor and pharmacist to check whether Relafen interacts with any other drugs you take.

Special Precautions

People who are allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory agents should avoid Relafen as well.

Signs of allergy include breathing difficulties, rash, fever, or a sudden drop in blood pressure and require immediate medical attention.

Taking the Medicine

Relafen may be taken with or without food, once or twice a day.

Taking Relafen with food may help reduce possible stomach irritation. This will increase the peak concentration in the blood stream by approximately one third and may speed the onset of pain relief slightly.

Taking an NSAID with food does not guarantee that the drug will be safe for the stomach.

Relafen should be stored at room temperature between 59 and 86 degrees F in a tightly closed, light-resistant container.

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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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