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Naproxen Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Sep 11, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

How it works

  • Naproxen helps relieve pain and inflammation by blocking the effects of the enzymes cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. This prevents prostaglandin synthesis (prostaglandins elevate body temperature and make nerve endings more sensitive to pain transmission).
  • Naproxen belongs to a group of medicines known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Upsides

  • Effective for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, gout, menstruation, and tendonitis.
  • NSAIDs (including naproxen) are considered first-line options for mild-to-moderate acute pain because at correct dosages they are effective, do not cause dependence and are readily available at a low cost.
  • Generic naproxen is available.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Stomach-related side effects including indigestion, heartburn, and bleeding. People of an older age, taking other medicines that affect the stomach, or who drink more than 3 glasses of alcohol per day may be more at risk. Naproxen is considered to have an intermediate potential for stomach-related side effects compared with other NSAIDs.
  • Most NSAIDs have been associated with an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The risk may be higher in patients with preexisting cardiovascular conditions and with higher dosages.
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with kidney disease, a history of stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal disorders, with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, or following coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
  • May interact with some other medicines such as warfarin, SSRIs, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Naproxen is effective for the short-term relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, gout, menstruation, and tendonitis; however, like other NSAIDs, it has the potential to adversely affect the stomach or heart and increase bleeding tendency.

Tips

  • Take with food to reduce stomach-related adverse effects.
  • Slow-release, extended-release, or enteric-coated tablets should be swallowed whole, not crushed or chewed.
  • Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time.
  • The recommended dosage of naproxen may vary depending on the brand being taken. Do not assume that one brand has the same dose as another. Always check the dosage instructions on the label. Also, some brands may take slightly longer to start working than others.
  • Twice daily dosing is recommended; more frequent dosing does not necessarily improve the response to naproxen.
  • Morning and evening dosages do not have to be equal in size.
  • If you are taking naproxen and find it is not working very well for you, you may like to try a different NSAID.
  • NSAIDs should not be used in the last 3 months of pregnancy; always ask your doctor before using any medication during pregnancy.
  • Avoid naproxen if you have a history of asthma or hives after taking aspirin or any other NSAIDs, like ibuprofen.
  • Do not use this medicine in the setting of heart bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG).
  • See a doctor immediately if you experience any difficulty with breathing, unexplained sickness or fatigue, loss of appetite, vision changes, fluid retention or abnormal bleeding.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Time to peak concentrations varies with different formulations but ranges from 1-4 hours. Pain-relieving effects last for approximately 12 hours.

References

Naproxen [Package Insert]. Revised 10/2016. Palmetto Pharmaceuticals https://www.drugs.com/pro/naproxen.html

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use naproxen only for the indication prescribed.
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Copyright 1996-2017 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2017-11-09 00:26:34

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