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Use of NSAIDs in triathletes: prevalence, level of awareness and reasons for use

Abstract

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 327 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, side effects and consumption at the bike checkout or awards lunch.

Results 196 (59.9%) Athletes reported using NSAIDs in the previous 3 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 3 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 and side effects of them and a high rate of nonprescribed use. It is suggested that long-distance triathlon events include in their programmes educational devices such as talks or folders about NSAID use, effects and side effects.

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