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Naproxen Otc

Naproxen Otc

What Is Naproxen (Aleve)?

Naproxen sodium is the generic ingredient in Aleve and several other brands of pain medication.

Naproxen is in a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, substances in the body that play a role in pain and inflammation.

Naproxen has been used in the United States since 1980. It is available generically and under many brand names.

After 14 years as a prescription-only medication, in 1994 naproxen was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug.

Naproxen and Naproxen Sodium are Available in Many Forms

You can take naproxen orally by tablet or as a liquid suspension, in an extended-release formulation, surrounded by an enteric coating, combined with a proton pump inhibitor to help protect your stomach, with a decongestant to relieve sinus pressure, or even combined with an antimigraine drug like sumatriptan. You can get it with a prescription, or without.

Common uses

  • migraine
  • osteoarthritis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • degenerative disc disease
  • pain
  • fibromyalgia

Side effects

  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • heartburn
  • acid reflux
  • gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
  • bruising


Increased risk of severe stomach bleeding (esp. ≥60yrs old). History of GI disorders (eg, heartburn, bleeding ulcers). Increased risk of heart attack or failure, and stroke (may be fatal). Hypertension. Heart disease. Recent stroke. Liver cirrhosis. Renal disease. Asthma. Dehydration. Reevaluate if pain worsens or lasts >10 days or fever persists or worsens >3 days. Pregnancy (avoid during 3rd trimester). Nursing mothers.

Naproxen and Breastfeeding

Studies of naproxen use by women who are breastfeeding are inconsistent.

Some evidence suggests that naproxen is safe for a breastfeeding mother to use in moderate doses if her infant is at least one month old.

However, the American Academy of Family Physicians warns that naproxen can accumulate in an infant if a breastfeeding mother uses the drug for an extended period of time.

Ask your doctor if it's safe to use naproxen while breastfeeding. There may be safer alternatives for you and your nursing baby.


Avoid aspirin or other pain relievers. Increased risk of GI bleed with anticoagulants, corticosteroids, other OTC or Rx NSAID-containing products (eg, ibuprofen, naproxen, others), ≥3 alcoholic drinks/day, or prolonged use. Caution with diuretics.

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