In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for diclofenac, trade name VoltarenTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Diclofenac is used to decrease pain and swelling in a variety of short or long term conditions. Diclofenac works by blocking inflammation, fever, and pain in your body. This medication is not a steroid.
This medication is usually taken 1 to 3 times daily with a full glass of water. Your dose is based on your condition and response to treatment. To decrease an upset stomach, you may take diclofenac with food, milk or an antacid. Stay sitting upright for at least 15 minutes after your dose to decrease the chance of heartburn.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
This medication begins to work within a few hours; however, it may take 2 or 3 days before you notice its full effect. In some situations, such as arthritis, you may need to take this medication for 2-3 weeks before you notice its full effect.
Talk with your doctor if you have taken this medication for 2 weeks or more and your condition is not improving or getting worse.
Most Important Warnings
- This category of medications has an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, especially in people with heart disease or those that take this medication for a long time. Do not use diclofenac to treat pain just before or after heart surgery.
- This category of medications increases the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding, especially in the elderly or people with a history of stomach ulcers. This may be fatal and can happen without warning.
Other Warnings & Cautions
- Drinking alcohol or using tobacco on a daily basis will increase the chance of stomach bleeding while taking this medication. If you drink alcohol or use tobacco on a daily basis, talk with your doctor before starting diclofenac.
- You are more likely to get a sunburn while taking this medication. If you can’t stay out of the sun, cover up with clothing and sunscreen.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. These side effects may be increased in the elderly.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
- Your doctor may have you take a low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention. Take your low-dose aspirin first, then wait at least 30 minutes before you take the diclofenac.
- Tell all your health care providers you are taking this medication. They may have you stop your diclofenac before they perform a procedure on you.
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the risks of using this medication in any individual under the age of 18.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if diclofenac is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Diclofenac may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other medications used to thin the blood. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have asthma, diabetes, a history of heart disease, any stomach or intestinal disease, a history of substance abuse, or any other medical conditions.
- While taking diclofenac, you may feel some gas, diarrhea, easy bleeding or bruising, a sore throat or a runny nose. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Stop taking diclofenac and call your doctor right away if you notice signs of serious stomach problems such as persistent stomach pain, black or tarry stools or vomit that looks like coffee grounds. Also, call your doctor if you have any ringing in the ears, swelling in your ankles or hands, difficulty breathing, unexplained weight gain or any other significant side effect.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath, and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.