Healthy Living

What Is Naproxen?

What Is Naproxen?

What Is Naproxen Used For?

Naproxen or naproxen sodium is an NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which works by decreasing the hormones which cause pain and inflammation in the body. This drug is used to treat inflammation or pain that is caused by certain medical conditions such as tendinitis, gout, bursitis, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and ankylosing spondylitis.

It works by blocking the effect of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes in the body. The COX enzymes are responsible for the production of prostaglandins. Naproxen can help decrease swelling by lowering the levels of prostaglandin. The prostaglandin is a hormone-like substance which often causes inflammation. When the COX enzymes are blocked, there will be fewer productions of prostaglandin. Thus, inflammation or pain is decreased or eliminated.

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Naproxen is not recommended for those who are allergic to other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) as well as aspirin as it can increase the risk of stroke or fatal heart attack. It should also not be in use before or after a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

This drug should also not be taken during the last three months of pregnancy because doing so can harm the unborn infant. Naproxen can pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby as well. Thus, breastfeeding is not advised when a nursing mom is taking naproxen.

Naproxen Dosage

Naproxen comes in many forms including a tablet, liquid suspension, or delayed-release tablet. These forms are all taken orally. Take naproxen exactly as prescribed by the physician or as directed on the label. Taking larger dosages of naproxen or taking naproxen for extended durations is not recommended.

The appropriate dose, form, and frequency of use will depend on the age of the patient, the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, other present medical conditions, and the patient’s reaction to the initial dose.

The naproxen oral tablet comes in 250 mg, 275 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg, and 550 mg. The oral suspension comes in 125 mg/5 mL and the delayed-release tablet comes in 375 mg and 500 mg.

In cases where you miss a dose, you must take it as soon as possible. However, if it is only a few hours before until your next dose, then wait for the scheduled time and take just one dose. Never take two doses at once to catch up on your missed dose. Doing so can lead to the development of toxic side effects.

Side Effects of Naproxen

The common side effects of naproxen are:

It is possible to have an allergic reaction from naproxen. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to this drug include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms after taking naproxen, seek emergency medical help immediately. In addition, if there are signs of stroke or heart attack such as slurred speech, chest pain spreading to the jaw or shoulder, feeling of shortness of breath, or sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, get immediate medical help.

Below is a list of red flags which indicate you should stop using naproxen:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Any sign of skin rash
  • Swelling
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Severe skin reaction
  • Sore throat
  • Burning feeling in the eyes
  • Blistering and peeling
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the face or tongue
  • Skin pain
  • Anemia or low levels of red blood cells
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Pale skin
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Rapid heart rate

The signs of stomach bleeding are often coughing up blood, bloody or tarry stools, and vomit which resembles grounds of coffee. Liver problems are usually accompanied by nausea, tired feeling, loss of appetite, clay-colored stools, upper stomach pain, flu-like symptoms, jaundice (skin or eyes), and dark urine. Kidney problems will usually manifest in symptoms such as difficulty urinating, less or no urination, painful urination, feeling tired, or swelling in the feet or ankles.

Do not combine naproxen and alcohol as it can increase the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcer.

Is Naproxen a Narcotic?

Naproxen is not a narcotic; thus, people who take naproxen will not get high. Naproxen belongs to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Even if naproxen is taken for longer periods, there have not been any reports of tolerance or addiction to it. Thus, mental dependence on naproxen is not possible since people cannot get high on it.

However, a new study has found that naproxen appears to provide the same relief for acute lower back pain as a narcotic or muscle relaxant. The study compared the use of naproxen alone and the use of the prescribed painkiller oxycodone with acetaminophen or the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine. The results of the study showed that patients who took the painkiller and muscle relaxant, combined, felt no improvements with their pain as compared to when they took naproxen alone. But the study did not say that naproxen can now be viewed as a narcotic. Instead, the study concluded that narcotics are not appropriate for the treatment of low back pain. This report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on October 20, 2015.

Is Naproxen an Opiate?

No, naproxen is not an opiate. It is categorized as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It works by blocking the action of certain hormones such as prostaglandins which cause pain and inflammation in the body.

Naproxen is specifically useful for reducing fever and reducing pain associated with muscles, tendon or bone injury, inflammation, and alleviating the pain as well as joint swelling related to different types of arthritis and other disorders.

This drug can also be combined with other drugs to help ease the symptoms of common cold such as aches, pains, and fever.

Is Naproxen Stronger Than Ibuprofen?

Naproxen and ibuprofen are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs share similarities; thus, it can be difficult to differentiate which works best.

Both naproxen and ibuprofen temporarily prevent the body from releasing prostaglandins that cause inflammation. By blocking these hormones, the body is relieved from pains and aches. Both drugs can also help reduce fever temporarily.

Although these drugs have similarities, they are not exactly the same. A major difference is the strength of the drug. Pain relief from naproxen lasts longer compared to ibuprofen. Naproxen is considered a long-acting NSAID and has a slower onset of effect. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is considered a short-acting NSAID with a rapid onset of action. This means that a person does not need to take naproxen as often as with ibuprofen because the former is stronger. Naproxen is suitable for chronic pain while ibuprofen is beneficial for acute pain.

Naproxen can only be taken by children who are 12 years or older while ibuprofen is used in younger children.

Since naproxen is a long-acting type of NSAID, it can cause a higher risk of gastrointestinal effects like stomach bleeding and stomach ulcers. Thus, naproxen must only be taken at its lowest effective dose to decrease the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.

Is Naproxen a Blood Thinner?

Naproxen is not classified as a blood thinner; however, it may thin the blood as it has anti-platelet side effects. Naproxen reversibly inactivates the new platelets in the body for approximately 24 hours. This means that the blood is thinned or is less likely to clot within 24 hours. It cannot be compared to the blood thinning caused by aspirin as the blood’s viscosity is not changed when taking naproxen.

Another insight is that naproxen must not be combined with anticoagulants such as Coumadin because it can cause the blood to thin. When there is too much blood thinning, bleeding may occur.