Naproxen: Uses and Side Effects

Naproxen may be helpful in alleviating the general symptoms of many different conditions. However, indiscriminate use of the compound can lead to severe side effects.
Naproxen: Uses and Side Effects

Written by Luis Rodolfo Rojas Gonzalez, 26 April, 2021

Last update: 26 April, 2021

Pain is one of the main reasons for people going to see their doctors in all medical specialties. This had led the pharmaceutical companies to devise multiple compounds capable of reducing pain intensity. One of the drugs devised for this purpose is naproxen. Discover its uses and side effects below!

Naproxen is a drug that belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and, therefore, it has analgesic and antipyretic properties. The compound in question is used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and acute pain disorders of mild or moderate intensity.

Multiple studies show that the compound has good intestinal absorption, and so it can be administered orally without causing any problems. In addition, it has a half-life of around 13 hours, which allows it to act for a prolonged period.

Mechanism of action

Naproxen is very helpful.
Naproxen is a widely used drug.

As with all NSAIDs, naproxen decreases prostaglandin synthesis by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2). Prostaglandins are a group of low molecular weight proteins called cytokines, which function as mediators of the inflammatory process.

The inflammatory process and the pain are also reduced, thanks to the inhibition in the migration of white blood cells. In addition, the drug decreases the secretion of other inflammatory factors such as leukotrienes, superoxides, and the release of lysosomal enzymes.

The antipyretic effect is observed thanks to its action in the central nervous system. Naproxen decreases prostaglandin E2 synthesis in the brain. This substance is responsible for altering the temperature set point of a region called the hypothalamus and causing fever.

What is naproxen used for?

As mentioned above, this drug is very useful in the symptomatic treatment of mild or moderate pain. The compound is used in the relief of menstrual pain thanks to the inhibition of intrauterine prostaglandins.

However, naproxen is especially useful in relieving pain and inflammation of osteoarticular structures such as bursitis or tendinitis. It’s also used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Studies show that it can relieve migraines when combined with other drugs such as sumatriptan. It’s also frequently used in the dental field in order to relieve pain after tooth extraction.

This is a drug that can be purchased without a prescription, and so it’s widely used by the general population to lower fever, relieve symptoms of the common cold, and to treat muscle, headache, and back pain.

How do you take the medicine?

Naproxen should be swallowed whole, without chewing or crushing, and preferably with food in order to avoid gastrointestinal upset. According to the drug’s internal package insert, the maximum recommended dose is 1,100 milligrams a day, however, this may vary according to the specialist’s discretion.

The required dose will vary depending on the disease to be treated. In this sense, the recommended dose for the treatment of rheumatic diseases is 1 tablet of 550 milligrams twice a day. Menstrual cramps are treated with 225 milligrams of the drug every 6 to 8 hours.

In case of migraines or headaches, you should take 1 tablet and a half or 725 milligrams with the first symptom. After that, you need to administer an additional half tablet half an hour later. However, these dosages are reference values and a doctor should always be consulted before starting any treatment.

On the other hand, if the medicine is to be ingested in the form of a syrup, you need to shake the bottle well, and use the measuring element provided. The treatment shouldn’t be carried out for a long time, as it can create gastrointestinal and cardiac complications.

Naproxen side effects

As with all commercially available drugs, naproxen can cause unwanted effects in some people. However, these side effects aren’t usually severe and disappear on their own after a few days.

The digestive system is one of the most affected. However, the symptoms are varied, and can include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence and belching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Excessive thirst
  • Hearing problems

In addition to this, studies have determined that between 2% and 4% of people who consume NSAIDs develop upper gastrointestinal disorders. In this way, patients can develop ulcers, hemorrhages, and perforations, which are fatal if they aren’t treated in time.

Many NSAIDs can also cause heart disease, especially those that have a high affinity for the COX-2 enzyme. However, it has been shown that naproxen has a low affinity for this enzyme, so the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as a consequence of its use is lower.

Warnings and contraindications

Naproxen relieves pain.
Pregnant women should exercise caution with this drug.

One of the main contraindications to the consumption of naproxen is hypersensitivity to the active principle or to any of its components. The drug should also be avoided if allergic reactions to other NSAIDs have occurred.

This medicine is metabolized in the liver and eliminated through the urine, and so its use isn’t recommended in people with liver failure or severe kidney failure. People with gastrointestinal diseases such as active ulcers or bleeding should also refrain from ingesting this drug.

Women in the third trimester of pregnancy shouldn’t take naproxen without medical supervision, as there’s a risk of preterm labor. The compound has the ability to interact with other drugs in the body and generate harmful effects, so you should inform the specialist if you take any additional medications.

Naproxen isn’t contraindicated in elderly patients, in children under 16 years of age, in people with a history of high blood pressure, or who are at risk of developing gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding. However, they should only be used in these patients when the benefits of their use outweigh the risks.

An effective and safe medicine

In general terms, NSAIDs are useful drugs in the treatment of pain and febrile processes. Naproxen is widely used because it’s easily accessible and because of the few side effects it generates.

It’s frequently used in older patients for its effectiveness in relieving pain caused by rheumatic diseases. As if that weren’t enough, the risk of this compound causing any gastrointestinal or cardiovascular disease is very low.

However, you shouldn’t take naproxen, or any other drug, without first consulting your doctor. Only they will be able to indicate the necessary dose and the duration of the treatment. Although the risks are low, health problems can occur if they’re consumed improperly.

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