Diclofenac sodium is a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication prescribed to relieve the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been used with some success for the treatment of migraine headaches. The most common serious side effects of this arthritis pain killer are stomach and intestinal bleeding.
Symptoms of the gastrointestinal side effects of diclofenac sodium often begin with abdominal pain. The pain may indicate that a perforation of the stomach lining or the intestines has occurred. Vomit that looks like coffee grounds indicates bleeding in the stomach. Intestinal and stomach bleeding is often diagnosed after the presence of black, tarry fecal matter has been confirmed.
There is a risk of an anaphylactic reaction to the medication occurring at any time, even if the medication has been taken without any problems previously. Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, face, tongue or lips, and hives. A person that experiences any of these symptoms needs to be evaluated by an emergency treatment facility.
Severe cardiac and circulation problems may occur as one of the side effects of diclofenac sodium. These risks may increase the longer the medicine is taken. Rarely, heart attack or stroke can happen because of taking this prescription. Chest pain, slurred speech, and changes in vision or balance problems may indicate a heart attack or stroke, and requires immediate attention by medical personnel.
Other symptoms that would prompt an emergency visit to the doctor are stiffness of the neck and seizures. Tingling of the arms and legs, muscle weakness, or chills also indicate a need for evaluation. A rapid increase in weight and dark urine from decreased urination could mean liver damage and should be reported to the doctor immediately.
The less serious side effects of diclofenac sodium are mild stomach upset and heartburn. Some patients report constipation and bloating after beginning treatment. Others have diarrhea regularly while taking this medication. Mild central nervous system side effects of diclofenac sodium are blurred vision, headaches, and hearing a constant ringing sound, also called tinnitus. Most people do not find these side effects to be bothersome enough to discontinue diclofenac sodium.
Taking this medication in combination with cold or allergy pills can cause unwanted drug interactions. Consult with a physician before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements to prevent drug interactions. Diclofenac sodium should not be taken while drinking any form of alcohol, as it can cause liver damage and an increased risk of bleeding in the stomach.