What Is Naproxen?


Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works by decreasing hormones that cause pain and inflammation. People can purchase naproxen over-the-counter in brands such as Aleve and also by prescription in higher-dose tablets.

Nonprescription Use

People use nonprescription naproxen to relieve headaches, arthritis pain, muscle aches, menstruation, backaches and other conditions that cause relatively mild pain. Naproxen also reduces fever.

Prescription Use

Doctors prescribe naproxen to relieve the stiffness, swelling and more intense pain associated with various disorders. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, bursitis and tendinitis.


Naproxen, like other NSAIDs, reduces the levels of prostaglandins in the body, chemicals that cause pain, inflammation and fever. Naproxen blocks cyclooxygenase, the enzyme that makes these chemicals.

Possible Serious Effects

Naproxen can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and also can have serious effects on the stomach and intestines, such as the development of ulcers.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects from naproxen use include ringing in the ears, dizziness, drowsiness, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea or constipation.

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