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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