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Naproxen - What You Need to Know

Popular NSAID Used to Treat Arthritis


Updated May 16, 2014

Mario Tama Collection/Getty Images News

Naproxen (naprosyn) is one of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat certain types of arthritis. Naproxen tablets were approved by the FDA in 1976. On January 11, 1994, the FDA approved naproxen in a nonprescription form.

What is the availability of naproxen?

Naproxen is currently available as an over-the-counter drug by either its generic name or by several brand names. Prescription-strength naproxen comes as a regular tablet, enteric-coated tablet, extended-release tablet, and as a liquid suspension to take orally.

The usual dose of naproxen is 250 mg, 375 mg, or 500 mg -- twice a day in the morning and evening for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis. Enteric-coated naproxen is usually taken in doses of 375 or 500 mg twice a day. Your doctor can adjust your dose based on how you are responding to the drug.

When is naproxen prescribed?

Naproxen is prescribed to relieve signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is primarily used to reduce inflammation, stiffness, and pain.

Are there any special instructions regarding how to take naproxen?

Many doctors instruct patients to take naproxen with food. Some resources say that naproxen can be taken with or without food. Other resources suggest taking it with a full glass of water. To prevent stomach upset, you can take it with food or milk. If stomach upset occurs, consult your doctor. He may recommend that you take an antacid.

Are there patients who should not take naproxen?

Patients who had episodes of asthma, rhinitis, or nasal polyps after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs should not take naproxen. Aspirin-sensitive patients should not take naproxen.

Be sure your doctor knows about any previous drug reactions. Patients who have had ulcers, stomach bleeding, severe kidney problems, or severe liver problems may not be candidates for treatment with naproxen.

What common side effects can occur with naproxen?

Diarrhea, constipation, gas, mouth sores, headache, dizziness, thirst, lightheadedness, drowsiness, tingling in arms and legs, cold symptoms, ringing in the ears, hearing problems, and trouble falling or staying asleep are all possible side effects associated with naproxen.

What special warnings and precautions are associated with naproxen?

Problems with stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding can occur with any NSAID, and naproxen is no exception. Typically, these problems are tied to long-term use of the drug but not always -- short-term use of naproxen or other NSAIDs can be problematic for some patients. Stomach ulcers and bleeding can occur without warning. Some people do get signs and warnings by experiencing burning stomach pain, black stools, or vomiting. Call your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Liver damage can occur in people taking NSAIDs like naproxen. Warning signs include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, appetite loss, itching, yellowing of the skin or eyes, and dark urine.

Naproxen can cause fluid retention and swelling in the body. NSAIDs like naproxen have also been linked to increased blood pressure.

NSAIDs, including naproxen, are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including heart attack, stroke, and new onset or worsening of pre-existing hypertension (high blood pressure). The cardiovascular risk may be increased with duration of use of naproxen or other NSAIDs or pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors or disease.

Are there drug interactions associated with naproxen?

Naproxen can have serious adverse reactions with certain drugs. Drugs which can cause interactions include:

Are there special instructions for pregnant or nursing women?

Women who are pregnant are advised not to take naproxen, especially during their last 3 months of pregnancy. Women who are nursing should also not take naproxen.

What are the signs of overdose with naproxen?

As with any medication, there can be severe consequences of taking excessive doses of naproxen. Overdose of naproxen or other NSAIDs can cause nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal bleeding. Other serious potential consequences of overdose include kidney and liver damage, meningitis, circulatory collapse and even death. Be sure to take naproxen only as directed.


Naproxen - Patient Information Sheet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 12/23/2004.

Naprosyn. PDRHealth. Accessed May 27, 2009.

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