Naproxen: Uses, Recommended Dose & Side Effects

Naproxen is a medicine with anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic action. It works by reducing the production of substances that cause pain or fever, It is often indicated for the treatment of sore throats, toothaches, cold or flu symptoms, menstrual cramps, muscle pain or joint pain.

This medication is available in pharmacies in tablet form as naproxen, in doses of 250 mg or 500 mg, or naproxen sodium, in doses of 275 mg or 550 mg.

Naproxen should be used as a directed by a doctor, for a maximum of 5 to 10 days.

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Common uses

Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic action. It is often indicted for the treatment of: 

  • Sore throat
  • Toothache
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Pain and fever during a cold or flu
  • Neck strain
  • Bursitis
  • Tendininits
  • Sinovitis or tenosinovitis 
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain and inflammation related to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, gout or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Migraine or headache
  • Post-operative pain
  • Pain from sprains, distensions, contusions or exercising

This medication can also be indicated for post-partum pain for women who are not breastfeeding. 

Recommended dose

Naproxen should be taken orally with water, before or after meals. It takes effect within about 20 minutes of taking it. The recommended doses of naproxen for adults varies according to the pill type and concentration, and is as follows

  • Naproxen 250 mg: one tablet, 1 to 2 times per day 
  • Naproxen sodium 275 mg: one tablet, 1 to 2 times per day 
  • Naproxen 500 mg: one tablet, once a day (every 24 hours) 
  • Naproxen sodium 550 mg:  one tablet, once a day (every 24 hours) 

Treatment duration should be oriented by a doctor, and can vary from 5 to a maximum of 10 days. 

What to do if you forget a dose

If you forget to take a dose at the right time, take it as soon as they remember. However, if it is already close to the time of your next dose, you should skip your forgotten dose and wait for the next time to take it. Under no circumstances should you double your dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

Possible side effects

Some side effects that may occur with naproxen include nausea, vomiting, indigestion, heartburn or burning, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, dizziness, bloating or ringing in the ear.

Naproxen can cause severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you should stop treatment and seek urgent medical attention if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, feeling of a closed throat, and swelling in the mouth, tongue or face.

You should also seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, such as chest pain that radiates to the face or shoulder, sudden numbness or tingling on one side of the body, slurred speech, difficulty speaking, or shortness of breath.

Contraindications for use

Naproxen should not be used by children under 12 years of age, by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by patients with a history of asthma, rhinitis, nasal polyps, or hives that are triggered by aspirin or other NSAIDs.

This medication should also not be used by people who have or have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or perforations caused by NSAIDs. It should be avoided by people with a history of peptic ulcers, or those who have severe heart failure or kidney failure.

You should not take naproxen if your are allergic to naproxen, naproxen sodium or any other NSAIDs, like acetylsalicylic acid or ibuprofen.

In addition, naproxen can augment the effect of anticoagulant medications (e.g. warfarin) which can increase your risk for bleeding. Caution should also be taken with when taking naproxen with other medications such as citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, trazodone or vilazodone, as this combination may increase the risk for bruising or bleeding.