Easy-to-read medicine information about naproxen – what it is, how to take it safely and possible side effects.
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What is naproxen?
Naproxen is in a group of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is used to treat different types of pain such as muscle pain, dental pain, migraine and pain resulting from injury or after surgery. Naproxen also helps to ease redness and swelling caused by injury, and acute gout attacks. It blocks the inflammation process in your body and in this way eases swelling and pain.
- The dose of naproxen will be different for different people. As a guide:
- If you are taking naproxen for a long-term condition (such as arthritis), the usual dose is 500 mg to 1 gram daily, taken as either a single dose, or divided into 2 doses during the day.
- For short-term conditions (such as muscle/tendon pain or sprains/strains), the usual dose is 250 mg taken 3 or 4 times daily when needed. It is often recommended that a double dose (500 mg) be taken for the first dose.
- For gout, the usual dose is 750 mg for the first dose, and then 250 mg every 8 hours until the attack has passed.
- For period pain, the usual dose is 250 mg three times daily for up to 5 days.
- Always take your naproxen exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.
How to take naproxen
- Take naproxen with food or immediately after food, to prevent stomach upset.
- Take naproxen with a full glass of water.
- Swallow the tablets whole. Do not crush or chew them.
- Limit or avoid alcohol while you are taking naproxen. Alcohol can increase the risk of side effects.
- It is not harmful if you miss your naproxen dose. If you miss a dose, take it when you remember, with or after food. Do not take double the amount of tablets.
Take care with naproxen
- For most people, taking naproxen is safe. However, extra care is needed if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stomach ulcers, kidney problems or if you smoke. Discuss with your doctor if taking naproxen is suitable for you.
- Non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke, which can lead to death. These serious side effects can occur even in the first weeks of using an NSAID and the risk may increase the longer you are taking them. The risk appears greater at higher doses; use the lowest effective amount for the shortest possible time. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms such as:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- sudden weakness or numbness in one part or side of the body
- sudden slurred speech.
- Some medicines contain NSAIDs, including those used for colds, flu, so always read the labels and avoid taking multiple medicines that contain NSAIDs.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, naproxen can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.
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- Naproxen interacts with some medicines, especially those used for high blood pressure, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking it.
- Do not take other NSAIDs such as diclofenac or ibuprofen while taking naproxen. This can increase your risk of side effects.
- Taking NSAIDs together with medicines called ACE inhibitors and diuretics (water pills) can be harmful to your kidneys. If you are taking ACE inhibitors and diuretics, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting ibuprofen.
Examples of ACE inhibitors are captopril, cilazapril, enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril, quinapril and trandolapril.
Examples of diuretics are furosemide, bumetanide, bendroflumethiazide, chlortalidone, indapamide and metolazone.
Read more: The triple whammy SafeRx
The following links provide further information about naproxen.
Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets:
New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: naproxen