Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Doctors prescribe this medication for conditions that cause inflammation, such as arthritis.
The drug works by blocking enzymes that produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a type of chemical compound that contribute to inflammation.
While meloxicam is not a drug of abuse, it does have the potential for short-term and long-term side effects. Common short-term side effects, such as constipation or sore throat, may dissipate with continued use. Long-term effects of using NSAIDs can be serious, such as an increased potential for stroke, and require medical monitoring.
Physical Short-Term Effects
The physical effects of this drug can be common or serious. The following are common short-term side effects:
- Sore throat
The Following Side Effects are Considered Severe, and Warrant Prompt Medical Attention:
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the lower extremities or abdomen
- Excessive tiredness
- Flu-like symptoms
- Discolored, bloody, or cloudy urine
- Painful or difficult urination
- Blisters or skin peeling
- Swelling of the face or its structures
- Fast heartbeat
- Unexplained weight gain
- Lack of energy
- Pain in the upper right portion of the stomach
- Back pain
This drug may cause people to experience certain psychological side effects. None of these side effects are considered common. If one or any of these side effects occur, the prescribing doctor should be notified right away.
Potential Psychological Side Effects May Include the Following:
- Abnormal dreams
- Mild depression
- Trouble concentrating
It is possible to overdose on this drug. When an overdose happens, it is a medical emergency.
If You Notice any of the Following Symptoms of Overdose, Call 911:
- Bluish nails, lips, or skin.
- Pain in the upper stomach, chest, or throat
- Skin rash
- Swelling of the face, lips, eyes, or tongue
- Severe stomach pain
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Rapid weight gain
When Someone is Taking this Medication Long Term, they are at Risk for Specific Effects. These Include:
- Kidney issues — This medication may impair how well the kidneys function. If someone has pre-existing kidney issues, this effect is even more dangerous and can increase the risk for kidney failure.
- Skin problems — Certain skin issues are possible when using this medication long term. These include Stevens-Johnson syndrome and exfoliative dermatitis.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare disorder that certain medications can trigger. It is characterized by the skin dying and detaching from the body. Exfoliative dermatitis is characterized by widespread scaling and redness of the skin.
- Stroke and heart attack — Long-term use of NSAIDs like meloxicam may increase a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack. This risk is further increased when someone already has heart disease or similar conditions. If heart disease is present, the risk of these complications is present even during the first week of taking this drug. As the person continues to use meloxicam, the risk continues to increase.
- Gastrointestinal problems — Gastrointestinal perforation is possible with long-term use of NSAIDs due to how harsh they are on the stomach lining. If people drink alcohol when using meloxicam, their risk of this life-threatening complication is higher.
If Someone Has a Gastrointestinal Perforation or Gastrointestinal Bleeding or Ulcers, they May Experience the Following Symptoms:
- Severe abdominal tenderness and pain
- Protruding abdomen
- Hard abdomen
It is possible to experience a serious infection called peritonitis as a result of gastrointestinal perforation. The symptoms of this infection may include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Fewer bowel movements
- Rapid heartbeat
It is estimated that approximately 7 percent of people who take this medication experience elevated liver enzymes. In some cases, the person can keep taking the drug, and this issue will be resolved. However, it is also possible for liver disease to worsen, causing reduced appetite, dark urine, jaundice, and fatigue.
Ways to Alleviate the Effects
If someone is experiencing unpleasant effects when taking this medication, they should alert their doctor. The doctor can decide if the medication is still safe for them to take. If so, they can provide instructions on what someone can take to alleviate the effects.
In the case of the common side effects, anti-gas medications, antidiarrheal, and anti-constipation medications might be recommended. These are generally only taken short term until the body adjusts to meloxicam and no longer produces these side effects.
With the serious side effects, emergency medical attention may be necessary. This is true for the complications of circulation issues and gastrointestinal perforation or bleeding. These issues may warrant emergency surgery.
The doctor may recommend that the person take medicine with food or an antacid. This can help to reduce stomach irritation. It may also help to reduce the risk of ulcer formation.
It is important to limit alcohol intake when taking meloxicam. Alcohol can irritate the stomach like this drug does, putting people at further risk for gastrointestinal upset and ulcers.
Meloxicam is a commonly prescribed drug to alleviate inflammation. Knowing the potential effects of this drug ensures that people are informed. Should serious side effects occur, or should any side effects worsen or persist, it is critical to alert the prescribing doctor. This is especially important for people with other health conditions.