Aleve, or naproxen sodium, is a potent medication that received FDA approval in the mid-1990s for over-the-counter sale. Initially prescribed for arthritis pain, it is now marketed as a pain reliever for headaches, backaches and menstrual cramps, rivaling Tylenol, Motrin, Advil and other medications. While taking Aleve is a safe and effective method of pain management, the product's instructions should be followed carefully to avoid side effects or possible interactions.
One of Aleve's popular product mottos is "All day long, all day strong." This refers to the drug's ability to be taken once at the beginning of the day and produce pain-relieving effects for eight to 12 hours. Not many over-the-counter medications can make the same claim. Due to its potency, the medication has specific directions for proper dosage.
Aleve's product information indicates that an adult using the medication should take one tablet, caplet or gelcap every eight to 12 hours for pain. If the pain is severe, you can take two pills as an initial dose and one more after eight to 12 hours; however, do not exceed three tablets, gelcaps or caplets in 24 hours.
According to the product website, drink a full glass of water when taking Aleve. If stomach upset occurs, take the medication with milk or food in addition to the glass of water. Aleve should not be taken with any other pain relieving drug--prescribed or over-the-counter--without a doctor's approval. This is to prevent interactions or unwanted effects when two or more drugs in the body's system combine. Aleve's website advises adults against using the medication for more than 10 days without talking to their doctor. This medication is also not suitable for children 12 and under, unless directed by a physician.
Although highly effective when used for pain relief, there is some cause for concern when taking a dosage of Aleve, especially on a regular basis. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, using Aleve or generic naproxen does pose some serious health risks to certain individuals. In a blanket statement on its MedlinePlus website, the NIH warns that people who use naproxen have a higher risk of coronary disease and stroke than those who do not.
Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has a history of heart disease, diabetes or stroke. Also, if you're a smoker, tell your doctor before taking Aleve, as this can exacerbate the risks mentioned.