Diclofenac (Voltaren) is a medicine used in the treatment of pain and inflammation. It alleviates the symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. The generic drug, Cataflam is also used in the treatment of menstrual cramps. Its use for a long period and at high doses is not recommended especially in patients with heart problems. Studies show that the use of diclofenac may increase the risk of fatal heart attack or paralysis. The most common side effects of Diclofenac are headache, dizziness, indigestion, and stomach disorders. You should use the medicine as recommended by your doctor to reduce the side effects.
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What is Diclofenac (Voltaren)?
Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain and inflammation. Its active ingredient, diclofenac sodium, is found in different amounts in Diclofenac tablet. Diclofenac which is sold in tablet forms of 25 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg can also be found in pharmacies as the generic drugs Cataflam and Voltaren. (1)
What is Diclofenac used for?
What is the function of Diclofenac?
NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and aspirin, alleviate inflammation and pain. These drugs are mostly used in the treatment of inflammation-induced pain, soft tissue injuries such as sprains, and muscle-joint pain.
The active ingredient, Diclofenac, inhibits an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) in the body. During injury or arthritis, COXs in the body start to produce prostaglandins that cause pain, swelling, and inflammation. Diclofenac inhibits this production, alleviating inflammation and pain. (3)
How is Diclofenac (Voltaren) used?
Take Voltaren tablets on a full stomach with a glass of water or milk to avoid stomach discomfort. Do not crush, break, or chew the tablets.
If you need to use Voltaren regularly every day, take it at about the same time.
Use the medicine as recommended by your doctor. Do not change the dose without consulting the doctor.
Your doctor may adjust the dose of your medicine depending on your response to treatment. Inform your doctor about how you feel during a treatment.
If you forget to take a dose, do not take a double dose to compensate the missed dose. Either take the dose immediately, or if it’s almost time for your next dose, take the next dose skipping the missed one.
In Diclofenac treatment, the lowest dose for the shortest period, which may achieve therapeutic objectives, is recommended. The purpose is to ensure that a patient is minimally affected by the side effects of the medicine. Depending on a patient’s response to treatment, a doctor can adjust the dose and intensity of use.
If you take more than recommended dose, contact your doctor, pharmacist, or apply to the closest emergency immediately. You may need medical care. Do not forget to take the box of the medicine with you and do not drive.
How to stop taking Diclofenac?
Diclofenac treatment must be ended under the control of a doctor. Do not stop taking your medicine without consulting your doctor.
Efficacy and safety for diclofenac (Voltaren)
Drug interactions of Diclofenac
Some medications can adversely affect Diclofenac treatment. Be sure to inform your doctor if you take one of the following medicines:
Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Aspirin, ibuprofen etc. (4)
Some antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, nalidixic acid, norfloxacin or ofloxacin
Anticoagulants: Warfarin etc.
Digoxin (for heart diseases)
Medicines for Hypertension
Cholesterol-lowering drugs: Colestipol and cholestyramine.
Methotrexate (A medicine used to treat various inflammatory diseases and some types of cancer)
Mifepristone (A medicine used to terminate pregnancy)
Medicines suppressing the immune system (especially used in organ transplant patients): cyclosporine and tacrolimus
Diuretics: Furosemide, bumetanide, etc.
Zidovudine (a medicine used in the treatment of HIV)
Cardiac glycosides (a group of drugs used in the treatment of heart diseases).
Trimethoprim (a medicine used in the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections)
Voriconazole (a medicine used in fungal infections).
In addition, concurrent use of supplements and herbal medicines with Diclofenac may not be safe. These drugs are not usually tested for their effects on other drugs.
Duration of Diclofenac treatment
Diclofenac takes effect after a single dose, and its effect gradually increase as used regularly. The general condition of a patient is checked by a doctor, and if necessary, treatment is discontinued.
Forms and types of Voltaren
Voltaren Emulgel: 10mg / g cream
Voltaren Osteo Gel 12 hourly: 100 g and 150 g tubes.
Tablets and liquid capsules
Voltaren 25 mg and 50 mg enteric-coated tablet,/ Voltaren SR 75 mg film-coated tablet / Voltaren Retard 100 mg tablet
Voltaren Suppository (100 mg suppository)
Cataflam 50 mg sugar-coated tablet
Forms of Diclofenac
Medicines containing the active ingredient, diclofenac, can be found in tablet, capsule, liquid-filled capsule, enteric-coated tablet, extended-release tablet, cream, gel, effervescent tablet, solution for injection, suppository, extended-release patch and powder forms.
Who should not use Diclofenac?
Children under 18
Those allergic to diclofenac or any component of Diclofenac
Those allergic to other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Patients with bleeding or perforation in the gastrointestinal tract or with a history of these problems
Those who have gastric ulcer, intestinal ulcer, or those with a history of these diseases
Those who underwent coronary artery surgery such as cardiovascular surgery or bypass
Women who are in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Those with severe heart failure or cardiovascular obstruction
Those with severe liver or renal disease,
Diseases which Diclofenac is inconvenient
Diclofenac should be used with caution in the following situation:
Risk Group for Heart diseases: The medicine should be prescribed after evaluating the patients at high risk for heart diseases, such as those with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or smokers.
Asthma or hay fever (seasonal allergy)
Gastrointestinal problems: The medicine should be used under the supervision of a doctor in patients with a history of gastrointestinal problems, such as gastric ulcer, gastric bleeding or black stool, or previously with gastric disorders after using NSAIDs.
Dehydration due to situations such as disease or diarrhea, or before a surgery
Swelling in the feet
Bleeding disorder or different blood-related conditions
If you experience any of above-mentioned conditions, consult your doctor immediately.
Diclofenac during breastfeeding and pregnancy
Use of Voltaren during pregnancy
Use of Voltaren is not recommended during pregnancy, unless considered absolutely necessary by a doctor. As with other NSAIDs, Voltaren should not be used especially in the last trimester of pregnancy. Do not use Voltaren if you plan to become pregnant. The medicine may make it difficult to get pregnant.
Use of Voltaren during breastfeeding
The components of the medicine may pass into milk. Do not take Voltaren while breastfeeding.
Be sure to inform your doctor about any side effect you experience.
Does diclofenac cause heart attacks?
In a study conducted in Aarhus University Hospital, it was found that the use of diclofenac may lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Starting from 1996, over 6.3 million participants have used diclofenac, other NSAIDs, or paracetamol for 10 years. The study results showed an increase in health problems such as arrhythmia or palpitation, paralysis, heart failure and heart attack in patients taking diclofenac. (5)
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