Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, used for pain relief. It works by stopping the effects of hormones that cause pain and inflammation.

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Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, used for pain relief. It works by stopping the effects of hormones that cause pain and inflammation.

What is Naproxen?

Naproxen Sodium is a pain relief medication, part of a group of medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs,) which are used to relieve acute and chronic pain or inflammation.

Naproxen is used to treat pain and inflammation and related symptoms of joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis and lower back pain, as well as mild to moderate pain including muscle stiffness and inflammation. For constant pain, Naproxen is available as an immediate release and extended release tablet.

Naproxen is usually available only on prescription, however it is available over the counter to treat pain caused by menstrual periods. It is available in tablet form for oral use, and as a liquid you can drink. Naproxen is available under several brand names, such as Feminax, Stirlescent and Naprosyn.

For more information, please refer to the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Naproxen, like other non-steroidal anti inflammatory medications, works by blocking your body’s production of hormones that cause the sensation of pain. Therefore, your ability to feel inflammation and pain in the affected area is reduced.

Naproxen usually begins to work within one hour, however it can take up to three days for Naproxen to work properly.

Naproxen is sometimes mixed with other medication to form combined remedies, for example with pseudoephedrine, to treat sinus congestion.

Before you take it

Naproxen can be taken by adults, and by children with medical supervision.

If you are pregnant you must not take Naproxen unless prescribed by a doctor. This is because, especially if used in the third trimester of pregnancy, there is an increased risk of certain birth defects. There may also be a link with taking Naproxen early in pregnancy and miscarriage.

Naproxen will not affect hormonal contraception in women, such as intrauterine devices, the contraceptive pill, implants or patches. You are still protected from pregnancy if you use these methods of contraception while taking Naproxen.

It is possible for Naproxen to make you less fertile, making it difficult to become pregnant. If you plan to become pregnant, you should speak with your doctor to discuss an alternative treatment. If you become pregnant while taking Naproxen, stop the treatment and discuss alternatives with your doctor.

You should not use Naproxen while breastfeeding, as it is excreted in breast milk. Other medications, such as paracetamol, may be safer to treat your condition.

Anti-inflammatory medications such as Naproxen can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. You should not exceed the recommended dose or treatment. You should not take Naproxen just before or after undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft, or any other type of heart surgery.

It’s important that you don’t take Naproxen and consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have experienced any of the following:

  • An allergic reaction to Naproxen or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine in the past
  • High blood pressure or heart attack
  • Stomach pains or ulcers
  • Heart disease or heart failure
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Renal impairment or reduced renal function
  • Intestinal bleeding or bleeding of the stomach
  • Asthma or a history of asthma or breathing problems

Naproxen can cause drug interactions with other medications. You must inform your doctor and exercise caution when taking Naproxen with other NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen or Flurbiprofen, blood thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin, methotrexate or antidepressants such as citalopram.

For a full list of medications that may cause interactions with Naproxen, consult the patient information leaflet.

Dosage Instructions

You must take Naproxen exactly as directed by your doctor or healthcare provider. For further information, please refer to the patient information leaflet.

The recommended dose of Naproxen is 500 mg to 1000 mg every day in one or two doses. You should talk to your doctor to see how much you should take and when to take it. You should take the lowest effective daily dose that manages your treatment.

The frequency with which you should take delayed release Naproxen is much lower, and you should check this with your doctor. Your doses should not exceed what has been prescribed to you.

For children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, 10mg per kilogram of the child’s weight should be taken in two doses every 12 hours as needed.

You should not take more than three doses of Naproxen over 24 hours. Do not take this drug for longer than needed.

You should take your Naproxen tablets with or just after food. You may take Naproxen without food, but this can increase the risk of stomach irritation or related side-effects.

Take Naproxen with plenty of water. Swallow Naproxen tablets whole - do not crush, chew or suck them.

Naproxen is typically only prescribed for short-term use, and is unsuitable for long-term use, for example over several years. If Naproxen is not managing your pain effectively, it is best to first ask your doctor for an alternative form of pain management.

Older patients should start on the lowest available dose.

Common Side Effects of Naproxen

Naproxen has been known to cause serious allergic reactions in some patients. You should stop treatment immediately and seek medical advice if you experience any of the following possible side effects:

  • Skin Rash
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Naproxen can cause serious side effects in some people. You should stop taking the medication and tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Upset stomach or abdominal pain (this can be made worse if you drink alcohol)
  • Diarrhoea, wind and bloating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Skin itching or rash (these can also indicate an allergic reaction)

Other, less serious side effects can occur. If they persist, you should call your doctor to report them. They include:

  • Issues with fluid retention
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight Loss
  • Tinnitus (hearing a ringing in the ears)

Naproxen, as well as other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, can increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack. If you are experiencing chest pains, a racing heart, slurred speech or weakness on one side of your body, this can be fatal and you must immediately seek medical help.

If Naproxen is causing you to feel dizzy or drowsy, you should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until the effects have worn off.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Naproxen suitable for children?

It depends. Naproxen should generally not be taken by children or young adults under the age of 16 for any medical condition other than juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It will be prescribed by your doctor for this purpose if needed.

Do I need a prescription?

You will usually need a prescription to take Naproxen. However, if you’re taking Naproxen for menstrual cramps, you can purchase it over the counter at a pharmacy. This product is branded Feminax Ultra and is available without prescription. You should ask your pharmacist to determine whether this is suitable for you.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Naproxen?

No. You should not normally take Naproxen while pregnant unless under the specific advice of your doctor. This is because there is a small risk of harm to your baby, including the risk of birth defects. Other treatments, such as paracetamol, may be more suitable to treat your symptoms. It is always best to check with your doctor to be sure.

Will Naproxen affect my contraception?

No. Using Naproxen will not affect hormonal contraception in women.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Naproxen, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to the time of your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue taking Naproxen as normal. Do not double up to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

Naproxen can be dangerous in high doses. If you take too much, it can have adverse effects. In more severe cases, it can lead to agitation, incoherence, blurred vision, convulsions and trouble breathing. If you suspect you have taken too much Naproxen, you should contact your local hospital or A&E centre for help.

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