Naproxen

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Naproxen (naproxen sodium) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve pain and inflammation from arthritis, as well as to treat mild to moderate pain from other sources involving inflammation.

Like all NSAIDs this product can induce stomach ulcers. Individuals with current ulcers or a history of developing stomach ulcers from NSAID use may want to consider alternative products, or take Naproxen with a proton-pump inhibitor.

While all NSAIDs are associated with some risk of cardiovascular events, Naproxen is among the least-likely to trigger such events. In some trials patients taking Naproxen had fewer cardiovascular events than placebo groups.

Naproxen Uses

Naproxen alleviates both inflammation and fever, making it useful in treating conditions that cause pain as a result. It is generally not very useful in treating pain which isn't the result of inflammation, such as nerve pain.

This product can be used in all ages, though use in young children is generally reserved for arthritis and not commonplace in all locations. Likewise elderly patients may be at increased risk of side effects. A doctor should determine dosage in these populations.

In otherwise healthy adults Naproxen is commonly used to treat:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Migraine
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis

The medication is typically used as-needed to address pain, and treatment generally should not exceed two consecutive weeks without doctor approval. Patients---particularly first-time patients---may require additional tests to monitor for developing side effects.

Taking Naproxen

To be clear, this page is talking about regular tablets; dosage and administration differs for enteric coated or extended release tablets, or any other formulation that isn't a regular tablet.

Naproxen dosage depends largely on what's being treated. Treatment can be broken down into three main categories, which follow.

For long-term conditions such as arthritis:

  • Take 500 mg per day, either as a single dose or in two divided doses.
  • If insufficient dosage may be increased to 1000 mg or 1500 mg per day, taken in two divided doses.
  • Treatment should not extend past two consecutive weeks without doctor approval.

For short-term sprains, strains, and other pain:

  • Take 500 mg for the first dose.
  • Take 250 mg three or four times per day as needed.

For gout:

  • Take 750 mg for the first dose.
  • Take 250 mg every eight hours until the attack has passed.

Note that treatment often exceeds two consecutive weeks, it's just inadvisable to do so without input from a doctor. Doctors can screen for developing side effects that might not otherwise be noticed until severe, such as ulcers or cardiovascular issues.

Naproxen begins working within an hour of administration, though it may take a week or two of treatment for maximum effect. As is usually the case with pain medication, effects are best if taken at the earliest symptoms of pain; while it will still provide benefit at later stages, effects may not be as great.

Taking tablets with food or milk will help alleviate stomach-related side effects of nausea, heartburn, ulcers and stomach bleeding. A full glass of fluid is also recommended.

Side Effects

Taking Naproxen with alcohol, particularly at higher doses, increases risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients will do best to avoid alcohol during treatment. Likewise patients should not mix Naproxen with:

  • Lithium
  • Methotrexate
  • Probenecid
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood thinners
  • Heart or blood pressure medications
  • Steroids

Most patients experience only mild side effects from Naproxen, such as ringing in the ears, headache, or dizziness. These usually pass as the body adjusts to treatment.

Less commonly serious side effects are experienced, with call for medical attention:

  • Skin rash, blistering, peeling
  • Swelling in hands or feet
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Changes in urination quantity or frequency
  • Blood in stools or vomit
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vision changes

There is risk, however small, of a cardiovascular event. Be alert for symptoms of heart attack or stroke. Also be alert for signs of ulcers or intestinal bleeding, which including blood in stools or vomit and abdominal tenderness, which may turn into abdominal pain.

Mothers who are pregnant should avoid this and all NSAIDs during the third trimester.

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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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