Objective: To determine the level of awareness regarding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and the prevalence and reasons for their consumption among athletes competing at the 2008 Brazil Ironman Triathlon (3,8-km swim, 180-km cycle, and 42,2-km run).
Design: Survey study.
Setting: 2008 Brazil Ironman Triathlon, Florianópolis, Brazil, May 2008.
Participants: Three hundred and twenty-seven of the 1250 athletes competing at the 2008 Brazil Ironman Triathlon were enrolled in the study.
Main outcome measures: Athletes answered a questionnaire about NSAID effects and consumption at the bike check out or awards lunch.
Results: One hundred ninety-six (59.9%) athletes reported using NSAIDs in the previous three months; of these, 25.5% (n=50), 17.9% (n=35) and 47.4% (n=93) consumed NSAIDs the day before, immediately before and during the race, respectively. Among NSAID users, 48.5% (n=95) consumed them without medical prescription. The main reason given for NSAID consumption in the previous three months was the treatment of injuries, while the main reason given for consuming NSAIDs during the race was pain prevention. Despite anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, most athletes were unaware of the effects of NSAIDs, and the only adverse effects known by most athletes were the gastrointestinal complications.
Conclusions: This study found a high prevalence of NSAID consumption, limited awareness of the effects of them and a high rate of non-prescribed use. It is suggested that long distance triathlon events include in their programmes educational devices – like talks or folders – about NSAID use and effects.