Naproxen sodium is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is most often used to treat pain, inflammation, menstrual cramps, and fever, as well as conditions affecting the joints. More rarely, it is used in the management of bone conditions like Paget’s disease and kidney disorders like Barrter syndrome. Though it is generally safe to use, some people do experience serious side effects. Pregnant women, children, and heavy drinkers should generally not take this medication.
There are both prescription and Over-The-Counter (OTC) versions of naproxen sodium. When prescribed, it's usually available as a tablet, a coated tablet with a delayed release, an extended release pill, or a liquid. Most forms are taken every 8 hours, while the extended-release version is taken once a day. OTC versions generally come in pill form, and are available in 8 to 12 hour dosages. The extended-release forms are popular for those with chronic pain because they don’t have to take a pill every 4 to 6 hours, as with other NSAIDs.
Many people can use naproxen sodium with no side effects, but some get an upset stomach, nausea, constipation, and heartburn after taking it. Drowsiness, headache or ringing in the ears are also possible side effects. Eating food or drinking a glass of water along with the pill can often help keep this from happening.
Other more serious possible side effects include ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and stomach and intestinal holes, so this medication is not suitable for those who have had ulcers in the past. Drinking alcohol and smoking can exacerbate these problems, and so should be avoided when using this drug. Like other NSAIDs, it can affect the kidneys and is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, particularly when taking consistently for a long time. Another serious possible side effect is liver toxicity, which produces symptoms like yellowing of the skin or eyes, nausea, and pain in the abdomen. Anyone with symptoms like this should seek immediate medical attention.
Naproxen sodium can interact with antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and lithium, so it's important to talk to a doctor before taking these two medications together. People taking blood thinners, Angiotensin-Converting-Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and aspirin should also consult a healthcare professional before taking naproxen sodium, since taking them together can cause an increase in side effects as well as an increased risk of bleeding.
Due to the potential side effects, only adults and children should take OTC naproxen sodium at home, though healthcare professionals may prescribe it for kids as young as two years of age. Women who are pregnant should not use it, since it can increase the risk of miscarriage in those in the first trimester and potentially cause birth defects in the third trimester. It can also be transmitted through breastfeeding, so it's not suitable for nursing moms. Additionally, those with high blood pressure should not take this medication, because of its high sodium content.