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Generic Name: Naproxen, Oral Tablet

Highlights

  1. Naproxen helps reduce swelling and pain. It’s used to treat many conditions, including arthritis, menstrual pain, muscle and joint inflammation, and gout.
  2. Naproxen comes as a tablet, delayed-release tablet, and liquid suspension. You take these forms by mouth.
  3. Naproxen is available as the brand-name drugs Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve, and Mediproxen. It’s also available as a generic drug.
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Important warnings

Important warnings

FDA warnings
  • This drug has black box warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning indicates potentially dangerous effects.
  • Heart disease: Naproxen may increase the risk of heart disease. Using naproxen long term or at high doses increases your risk. People with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, also have higher risk. Also, don’t use naproxen for pain before or after heart bypass surgery. Doing so may increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
  • Stomach problems: The FDA also warns that naproxen may cause ulcers and bleeding in your stomach and intestines. This can happen at any time during treatment and may occur without symptoms. This effect can result in death. You’re at higher risk for these problems if you’re older than 65 years.
  • High blood pressure warning: 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 warning: 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 an asthma attack. If you have asthma that can be triggered by aspirin or other NSAIDs, don’t use naproxen.

About

What is naproxen?

Naproxen is a prescription drug. It comes as a tablet, delayed-release tablet, and liquid suspension. You take these forms by mouth. 

Why it’s used

Naproxen is used to treat pain and inflammation in a variety of conditions. It’s approved to treat:

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 fully understood how this medication works to decrease pain. It may help reduce swelling by lowering levels of prostaglandin. This is a hormone-like substance that usually causes inflammation.

Availability

Naproxen is available as the brand-name drugs Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve, and Mediproxen. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name versions.

  • Are naproxen and Aleve the same thing?- Anonymous
  • Yes, Aleve is the same thing as naproxen. Aleve is a brand-name version of the drug naproxen.

    - The Healthline Medical Team
  • Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Is it a narcotic?

Is naproxen a narcotic?

No, naproxen is not a narcotic. Naproxen belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Like narcotics, NSAIDs help reduce pain. However, the pain they treat is a lot less intense than the pain treated by narcotics such as opioids. Also, NSAIDs don’t come with the risk of addiction that narcotics do. However, there is a risk of severe effects if you take too much naproxen.

Side effects

Naproxen side effects

Naproxen may cause drowsiness. You shouldn’t drive, use machinery, or do other activities that require alertness until you know you can function normally. It can also cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects that occur with naproxen include:

  • stomach pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness

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.

Serious side effects

If you experience any serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911.

  • 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, with symptoms such as:
    • stomach pain
    • bloody vomit
    • blood in your stool
    • black and sticky stool
  • asthma attacks in people who have asthma
  • low red blood cell count, which can cause fatigue, lethargy, and 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

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.

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Interactions

Naproxen may interact with other medications

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.

You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can also check for possible drug interactions. If you have questions about whether naproxen might interact with something you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Examples of drugs that can interact with naproxen include:

Antidepressant drugs: Combining selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) with naproxen increases your risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding.

Blood pressure drugs: Naproxen might make your blood pressure medications not work as well. If you’re older than 65 years, combining naproxen with certain blood pressure medications may damage your kidneys. These medications include:

  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • angiotensin receptor blockers
  • beta-blockers, such as propranolol
  • diuretics

Heartburn drugs and drugs that protect the stomach: Taking any of these medications with naproxen may make naproxen treat your pain more slowly:

  • aluminum hydroxide
  • cholestyramine
  • magnesium oxide
  • sucralfate

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Combining naproxen with other NSAIDs increases your risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding. These include:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • etodolac
  • diclofenac
  • flurbiprofen
  • ketoprofen
  • ketorolac
Combining NSAIDs?
It is important to know which of your medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can be available over the counter, like naproxen and ibuprofen. They can also be available by prescription, like the drugs meloxicam, indomethacin, and celecoxib. Combining NSAIDs can lead to an overdose in some cases.

Lithium: Naproxen may increase the lithium in your body to harmful levels.

Methotrexate: Combining these medications may lead to harmful levels of methotrexate in your body.

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

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.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Naproxen is a short-term drug treatment. It 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 have severe symptoms (see “In case of overdose” below). 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

Signs that the drug is working will depend on the condition being treated.

  • Adult arthritis: Your pain and swelling may get better, you may be able to walk faster, and your morning stiffness may get better.
  • Juvenile arthritis: Your pain and swelling may get better and you may be able to walk faster.
  • Menstrual pain: Your pain may get better.
  • Tendonitis or bursitis: Your pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation may get better.
  • Gout: Your pain and inflammation may get better and the temperature of your skin may start to return to normal.
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Overdose

In case of overdose

Taking too much of a drug is called an overdose. In some cases, if you take too much naproxen, it could cause:

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

In rare cases, an overdose can cause:

  • dangerous allergic reactions
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney failure
  • trouble breathing
  • coma

Get immediate medical attention if you think you’ve taken too much naproxen.

Other warnings

Other risks and warnings

Naproxen comes with several risks and warnings.

Allergic reaction

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 lead to death.

Alcohol

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

Warnings for certain groups

For people with stomach problems: If you have a history of ulcers or stomach or intestinal bleeding, naproxen increases your risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding.

For people with kidney disease: Naproxen can cause kidney damage when it’s used for a long time. If you have serious kidney disease, you should not use this drug.

Naproxen and breastfeeding
Naproxen is passed through breast milk and could cause side effects in a breastfeeding child. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.

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

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

Avoid naproxen during the third trimester of pregnancy. It may harm your pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

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 this drug doesn’t build up too much in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be harmful.

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

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Dosage

How to take naproxen

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

For arthritis

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, 550 mg
  • Form: oral suspension
  • Strength: 125 mg/5 mL
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 375 mg, 500 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • The typical dosage is one 250-mg, 375-mg, or 500-mg tablet twice per day in evenly spaced doses. Your doctor will decide your specific dose.
  • The maximum dose is 1,500 mg per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

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

Special considerations

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 juvenile arthritis

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, 550 mg
  • Form: oral suspension
  • Strength: 125 mg/5 mL
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 375 mg, 500 mg

Child dosage (ages 2–17 years)

Children in this age group generally receive the oral suspension form of this drug. The dosage will be based on your child’s weight. It should 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.

For menstrual period pain

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, 550 mg
  • Form: oral suspension
  • Strength: 125 mg/5 mL
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 375 mg, 500 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • This age group generally takes the delayed-release tablet. The initial dose is often 550 mg. The maximum initial dose is 1,375 mg.
  • You would typically take 550 mg every 12 hours or 275 mg every 6–8 hours as needed. After the initial dose, the maximum dosage is 1,100 mg per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

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

Special considerations

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 tendonitis or bursitis

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, 550 mg
  • Form: oral suspension
  • Strength: 125 mg/5 mL
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 375 mg, 500 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • This age group generally takes the delayed-release tablet. The initial dose is often 550 mg. The maximum initial dose is 1,375 mg.
  • You would typically take 550 mg every 12 hours or 275 mg every 6–8 hours as needed. After the initial dose, the maximum dosage is 1,100 mg per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

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

Special considerations

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 gout pain and inflammation

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, 550 mg
  • Form: oral suspension
  • Strength: 125 mg/5 mL
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strength: 275 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • The initial dose is often one 750-mg tablet. Then you would take one 250-mg tablet every 8 hours until the symptoms go away.
  • Sometimes, the initial dose may be 825 mg. Then you would take one 275-mg tablet every 8 hours until your 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

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.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking naproxen

General

  • You can take naproxen with or without food. Taking it with food may reduce your risk of upset stomach.
  • You can cut or crush the immediate-release tablet to make it easier to take. However, don’t cut or break the extended-release form. Breaking it apart can increase your risk of stomach damage. 
  • 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.

Storage

  • Store naproxen at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep the container tightly closed and protect the drug from light.

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. Carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.

Clinical monitoring

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

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

Alternatives

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.

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