When you experience moderate aches and pains, chances are that you reach into your medicine cabinet for relief. If you’re like most people, you probably have at least one or two over-the-counter pain relief medications in there. You may wonder if combining them can help or hurt. In this article, we’ll tell you about the over-the-counter pain medications Advil and Aleve. We'll tell you how each works to relieve pain as well as what can happen if you take them together. This information can help you make choices to relieve your pain in the healthiest way possible.
What can happen if I combine Advil and Aleve?
Advil, also known as ibuprofen, and Aleve, also known as naproxen, are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Both of these drugs work in the same way and do the same thing to relieve pain. Advil and Aleve both help prevent your body from making prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are made in most cells in your body. Your cells release them at many times, including when you’re injured. They’re responsible for inflammation. Advil and Aleve reduce the amount of prostaglandins that your cells have to release. Your pain from inflammation starts to go away once there are fewer prostaglandins.
Taking more than one NSAID like Advil and Aleve at the same time does not relieve pain any faster. You can also increase your risk of certain side effects from taking too much of an NSAID or from taking them for too long.
What are the side effects of NSAIDs?
Both Advil and Aleve can cause similar side effects. Taking them together increases your risk of these side effects in different parts of your body.
Kidney and blood pressure problems
Prostaglandins help keep the pressure in your kidneys to filter the fluids in your body and maintain your blood pressure. Changing the amount of prostaglandins too much or for too long may increase your blood pressure or damage your kidneys. This can cause fluid retention and changes in the amount and frequency you urinate. People with kidney disease or who take blood pressure medications are at increased risk.
Digestive system problems
Prostaglandins help protect your stomach from damage. Reducing them too much or for too long can put you at risk for ulcers, heartburn, and nausea. You may notice bloody or black, tarry stools. People with digestive system problems such as peptic ulcer disease and ulcerative colitis are at increased risk.
NSAIDs can reduce your blood’s ability to clot. If you have bleeding problems, you may notice frequent bruises or nose bleeds or bleeding from wounds that is difficult to stop. People are increased risk include people who:
- take blood-thinning drugs
- have low platelet counts
- have bleeding disorders such as hemophilia
Combining more than one NSAID, such as Advil and Aleve, will not help relieve your pain faster than taking just one NSAID. Instead, it could increase your risk of side effects. If your pain is not getting any better by taking just one of the medicines, contact your doctor. You may need a different medication or your pain could be a symptom of a larger problem.