Naproxen vs. ibuprofen & diclofenac
Available in dosages of 250mg and 500mg, Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It has a similar method of action of the over-the-counter medicine ibuprofen; it blocks chemicals that cause pain and inflammation at the site of injury. Naproxen is a stronger anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen and is used in moderate pain and inflammation or where ibuprofen has been ineffective.
Naproxen has a provides a similar level of pain relief to diclofenac and has a similar levels of anti-inflammatory activity. Naproxen has now largely replaced diclofenac in the UK due to concerns surrounding the adverse effects on the heart and gastrointestinal system caused by diclofenac.
Naproxen is used to treat pain or swelling caused by conditions such as:
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Back pain
- Bad headaches
- Period pain and menstrual cramps
The standard recommended dose for Naproxen is between 250-500 mg taken orally twice a day – or every 6-8 hours as needed. Overdoses can be dangerous, so do not exceed the dose recommended by your pharmacist or doctor.
Naproxen should always be taken with food to protect the stomach. Patients who are taking Naproxen long-term (regularly for periods exceeding two weeks) should take a treatment to protect the stomach, such as Omeprazole, whilst taking Naproxen to reduce the chance of side effects.
Naproxen and other painkillers
You can take Naproxen together with paracetamol and opioid-type painkillers such as codeine, co-codamol, tramadol or morphine. This is because Naproxen is primarily an anti-inflammatory, whereas codeine is an opiate used to treat pain.
However, don't take aspirin or other related anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or diclofenac, as this heightens the risk of side effects on the stomach and intestines. If you take selective inhibitors of COX-2 such as etoricoxib or celecoxib you should not take Naproxen for the same reason.
Unlike aspirin, Naproxen does not thin the blood, but use of blood thinners (like aspirin) alongside Naproxen is not recommended.
Drinking alcohol is fine while taking Naproxen, but it’s advised to stay within moderate quantities, as too much alcohol can irritate the stomach. Naproxen can sometimes lead to feeling dizzy or sleepy, therefore you shouldn’t do any driving while taking it until you know how it affects you.
It is important to remember that cold and flu remedies and over-the-counter painkillers often contain ibuprofen or aspirin. For this reason, you should avoid these medications while you're taking Naproxen to prevent an accidental interaction. Check the ingredients of other medicines you wish to take before buying, or ask us for advice.
You should also check with us before you buy anti-inflammatory gels (such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, ketoprofen or piroxicam) for use alongside Naproxen tablets, because this is not safe for everyone and the dosage may be too high.
For pregnant women, paracetamol is usually recommended to control pain during pregnancy. If this doesn’t work and you need something stronger, it’s important to speak to a doctor before taking any NSAIDs during pregnancy.
Naproxen side effects
Naproxen is thought to have fewer side effects than other anti-inflammatory drugs, with it being less harsh on the stomach than treatments such as high-strength ibuprofen or diclofenac. At The Independent Pharmacy we only supply Naproxen in gastro-resistant tablets, which means that they have an extra protective coating to help reduce the chance of side effects even further. Naproxen should always be taken with or after food, and at the appropriate dosage, to help protect the stomach lining.
Naproxen is suitable to buy online for those with short-term, non-serious injuries that do not require a visit to the doctor. For serious injuries or long-term conditions, it is more appropriate to see your GP for examination and management. If you’re suffering from arthritis, it may be that you are prescribed Naproxen, unless there is a more appropriate long-term option available.
Before you buy Naproxen, you should see your GP to check that your kidneys are functioning properly. The kidney blood tests should be conducted once or twice a year by your doctor. Please inform us about any issues with your kidneys when you order to prevent any delays.
You may have an increased risk of side effects on the kidneys if you take Naproxen together with any of the following medications:
- ACE inhibitors, e.g. enalapril, captopril
- Diuretics, e.g. furosemide
Naproxen may reduce the body’s removal of the following medicines from the body and thus may increase the risk of their side effects:
Naproxen may counteract the blood pressure lowering effects of certain high blood pressure treatments, such as:
- ACE inhibitors such as captopril
- Calcium-channel blockers such as Amlodipine
- Beta-blockers such as atenolol
If you take Naproxen together with quinolone antibiotics, such as or norfloxacin or ciprofloxacin, you may have an increased risk of seizures, particularly if you have epilepsy.
Probenecid may reduce the body’s removal of Naproxen. If you take this combination together, inform your doctor if you develop Naproxen side effects; your dosage may need to be lowered.
Non-prescription alternatives for the treatment of pain are:
- Topical treatments (Ibuprofen gel)
- Rest the area
If your pain does not ease or becomes severe, contact your GP or Pharmacist for further advice.