Generic Name: naproxen, Oral tablet

EC-Naprosyn

All Brands

  • EC-Naprosyn
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for naproxen

Oral tablet
1

Naproxen is used to reduce swelling and to treat pain. It’s used for many types of arthritis in adults, arthritis in children, painful menstrual periods, muscle and joint inflammation, and gout.

2

There are many different formulations of naproxen and they take different amounts of time to work. Your doctor will choose the right formulation based on your type of pain.

3

Naproxen may increase your risk of heart-related diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. Long-term use increases your risk.

4

Naproxen can cause severe ulcers and stomach bleeding. You’re at higher risk of these problems if you’re older than 65 years.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

May increase risk of heart disease. Naproxen belongs to a drug class called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs may increase your risk of heart-related diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. Using naproxen long term increases your risk. People with heart disease or risk factors of heart disease also have a higher risk. 

May cause ulcers and stomach bleeding that can result in death. Naproxen can cause ulcers and bleeding in your stomach and intestines. This can happen at any time during treatment and may occur without symptoms. These conditions can be fatal. You’re at higher risk for these problems if you’re older than 65 years.

Heart bypass surgery. Don’t use naproxen for pain before or after heart bypass surgery. Doing so may increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke.

High blood pressure

Naproxen can cause high blood pressure or make your high blood pressure worse. It can also make your high blood pressure medications not work as well. You may need to watch your blood pressure level carefully while taking naproxen.

Water retention and swelling

Some formulations of this medication have extra salt in them. Talk to your doctor about which formulation to take if you’re watching your salt intake.

Asthma warning

Naproxen can cause asthma attack. If you have asthma that can be triggered by aspirin or other NSAIDs, don’t use naproxen.

Drug Features

Naproxen is a prescription drug. It’s available in these forms: oral tablet, oral delayed-release tablet, and oral suspension.

Naproxen is available in its generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

Why It's Used

Naproxen is used to treat pain and inflammation in a variety of conditions.

More Details

How It Works

This medication belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

More Details

Why It's Used

Naproxen is used to treat pain and inflammation in a variety of conditions.

It’s approved to treat:

  • arthritis in adults:
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • osteoarthritis
    • ankylosing spondylitis
  • juvenile arthritis
  • menstrual period pain
  • tendonitis or bursitis
  • symptoms of gout

How It Works

This medication belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs help reduce pain, inflammation, and fever.

It isn’t known how this medication works to decrease pain. It may help reduce swelling by lowering levels of prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that usually causes inflammation.

SECTION 2 of 4

naproxen Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with naproxen include:

  • stomach pain

  • constipation

  • diarrhea

  • gas

  • heartburn

  • nausea and vomiting

  • dizziness

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • chest pain

  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing

  • weakness in one part or side of your body

  • difficulty speaking

  • swelling of the face or throat

  • high blood pressure

  • bleeding and ulcers in your stomach and intestines. Symptoms may include:

    • stomach pain
    • vomiting blood
    • blood in your stool
    • black and sticky stool
  • asthma attacks in people who have asthma

  • low red blood cell count. Symptoms may include:

    • fatigue and lethargy
    • weakness
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes

  • unusual weight gain or swelling of your arms, legs, hands, and feet

  • skin rash or blisters with fever

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Naproxen does not cause drowsiness.

Mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if they’re more severe or don’t go away.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

naproxen May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Naproxen can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol Interaction

Combining naproxen and alcohol increases your risk of ulcer and stomach bleeding.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Blood pressure drugs

These include: 

  • ACE Inhibitors
  • diuretics

Naproxen might make your blood pressure medications not work as well. If you’re over the age of 65 years, combining naproxen with certain blood pressure medications may damage your kidneys.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

These include:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • etodolac
  • diclofenac
  • flurbiprofen
  • ketoprofen
  • ketorolac

Combining naproxen with these medications increases your risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug
  • methotrexate 

Combining these medications may lead to toxic levels of methotrexate.

Anticoagulant, blood thinner
  • warfarin 

Combining these medications increases your risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding.

Bipolar disorder drug
  • lithium

Naproxen may increase the levels of lithium in your body, which may lead to lithium toxicity.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with asthma

Naproxen can cause an asthma attack. If you have asthma that can be triggered by aspirin or other NSAIDs, you shouldn’t take naproxen.

People with stomach problems

If you have a history of ulcer or stomach or intestinal bleeding, naproxen increases your risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding.

People with kidney disease

Naproxen can cause kidney damage when it’s used for a long time. If you have serious kidney disease, you shouldn’t use this drug.

People with high blood pressure

Naproxen can cause high blood pressure or make your high blood pressure worse. Naproxen can also make your high blood pressure medications not work as well. You may need to watch your blood pressure carefully while taking naproxen.

Pregnant women

Naproxen is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus. 

Avoid naproxen during late pregnancy (3rd trimester). It may cause harm to your unborn baby. 

Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Women who are nursing

Naproxen is passed through breast milk and could cause side effects in a breastfeeding child. It’s not recommended to breastfeed while taking this medication.

For Seniors

Use caution when taking naproxen if you’re older than 65 years. Your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

For Children

The safety and effectiveness of naproxen haven’t been established in children younger than 2 years.

Allergies

Naproxen can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take naproxen (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Arthritis
Form: Oral Tablet
Strengths: 250 mg, 375 mg, and 500 mg
Form: Oral Suspension
Strengths: 125 mg/5 mL
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 275 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

One 250-mg, 375-mg, or 500-mg tablet taken twice per day in evenly spaced doses. Your doctor will decide your specific dose.

Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years hasn’t been established

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you’re older than 65 years, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Juvenile arthritis
Form: Oral Tablet
Strengths: 250 mg, 375 mg, and 500 mg
Form: Oral Suspension
Strengths: 125 mg/5 mL
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 275 mg
Child Dosage (ages 2-16 years)
  • This group generally receives the oral suspension form of this drug.
  • The dosage will be based on your child’s weight.
  • The dose will be given twice per day in evenly spaced doses.
Child Dosage (ages 0-23 months)

Dosage for children younger than 2 years hasn’t been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you’re older than 65 years, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Menstrual period pain
Form: Oral Tablet
Strengths: 250 mg, 375 mg, and 500 mg
Form: Oral Suspension
Strengths: 125 mg/5 mL
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 275 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • This group generally takes the delayed-release tablet.
  • The initial dose is often 550 mg.
  • The next dose is 550 mg taken every 12 hours or 275 mg taken every 6–8 hours as needed.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years hasn’t been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you’re older than 65 years, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Tendonitis or bursitis
Form: Oral Tablet
Strengths: 250 mg, 375 mg, and 500 mg
Form: Oral Suspension
Strengths: 125 mg/5 mL
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 275 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • This group generally takes the oral delayed-release tablet.
  • The initial dose is often 550 mg.
  • The next dose is 550 mg taken every 12 hours or 275 mg taken every 6–8 hours as needed.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years hasn’t been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you’re older than 65 years, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Gout pain and inflammation
Form: Oral Tablet
Strengths: 250 mg, 375 mg, and 500 mg
Form: Oral Suspension
Strengths: 125 mg/5 mL
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 275 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • The initial dose is often one 750-mg oral tablet.
  • The next dose is one 250-mg oral tablet taken every 8 hours until the symptoms go away.
  • The initial dose may be 825 mg.
  • The next dose after that is a 275-mg tablet taken every 8 hours until the symptoms go away.
  • You shouldn’t take the extended-release form, because it takes longer to start working.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years hasn’t been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you’re older than 65 years, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Naproxen comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If You Stop or Miss Doses

If you stop taking naproxen, miss doses, or don’t take it on schedule, you may experience more pain and inflammation caused by your condition.

If You Take Too Much

If you take too much naproxen, you may experience:

  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • heartburn
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of consciousness
  • stomach bleeding

In rare cases, dangerous allergic reactions, high blood pressure, kidney failure, difficulty breathing, or coma can occur. Get immediate medical attention if you take or think you’ve taken too much naproxen.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

If you miss your dose, take it as soon as you can. However, if it’s just a few hours until your next dose, wait until the scheduled time and take a single dose.

Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

If you’re taking naproxen for adult arthritis, you may be able to tell it’s working if your pain and swelling get better, if you can walk faster, and if your morning stiffness gets better.

If you’re taking it for juvenile arthritis, you may be able to tell it’s working if your pain and swelling get better and if you’re able to walk faster.

If you’re taking it for menstrual pain, you may be able to tell it’s working if your pain gets better.

For tendonitis or bursitis, you may be able to tell it’s working if your pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation get better.

If you’re taking this medication for gout, you may be able to tell it’s working if your pain and inflammation get better and the temperature of your skin starts to return to normal.

Naproxen is a short-term drug treatment.

You can take naproxen with or without food

Taking it with food may reduce your risk of upset stomach.

You may need to space your doses evenly

If you take a regularly scheduled dose, you may space the doses every 12 hours or every 6–8 hours.

Don’t cut or break the extended-release form

Breaking it apart can increase your risk of stomach damage. 

You can cut or crush the immediate-release tablet.

Store at room temperature: 68–77°F (20–25°C)

Keep the container tightly closed. Protect this medication from light. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s preprinted label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled box with you when traveling.

Clinical Monitoring

Your doctor will perform tests to check your health and make sure the drug is working for you. They include: 

  • blood test
  • kidney function test
  • liver function test
  • stool sample

What does the pill look like?

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Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 7, 2015

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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