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Naproxen belongs to the group of drugs called NSAIDs. It renders several benefits in the management of pain but you also need to consider the risks and interactions carefully to stay safe.

Naproxen is the generic name of the NSAID or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat moderate to severe pain, swelling, fever and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, injury, fractures, tendonitis, juvenile, arthritis, ankylosing sponditis, psoriatic arthritis, menstrual cramps, bursitis and primary dysmenorrhea. The drug also comes under the brand names Aleve, Miranax, Naprogesic, Naprosyn, Synflex, Naprelan and Anaprox. It was first marketed in 1976 while naproxen sodium first entered the market in 1980.

As an NSAID, Naproxen primarily reduces prostaglandin levels to minimize pain and inflammation for patients. The medication usually comes in the form of an enteric coated tablet which is taken orally. There are delayed-release tablets, extended release tablets as well as suspensions. The drug may be taken to treat sudden outbursts of arthritic pain and inflammation or for maintenance by lowering concentration levels of the brain chemical prostaglandin to inhibit synthesis.

Just like any other NSAID or drug in general, Naproxen can cause a variety of side effects at varying intensities. Included are skin rash, ringing in the ears or tinnitus, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, fluid retention, abdominal pain and shortness of breath. Immediately look for medical help if you notice serious symptoms like stomach pain, feet and hand swelling, sudden weight gain, vision changes, easy bruising, rapid or pounding heartbeat, signs of bleeding like black tarry or bloody stools, change in urine amount, very severe headache, very stiff neck, mental or mood changes, vomiting blood or coffee-ground-like substances, extreme tiredness and jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Contraindications for Naproxen include individuals with known hypersensitivity reactions to the drug, people with a history of heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, blood clot, stroke, high blood pressure, stomach ulcer, stomach bleeding, kidney or liver disease, nasal polyps and asthma. Special precautions are given to nursing mothers and smoking patients. Children below 2 years old are not allowed to take the drug unless prescribed by a doctor. Patients should also inform their doctor about any condition or drug that they are currently taking that may interact with Naproxen such as blood thinners, lithium, steroids, diuretics, ACE inhibitors and other NSAIDs.

The true nature and action of NAIDs in the body is not fully known. However, Naproxen is thought to act by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis as it reduces the activity of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme which leads to lower formation of prostaglandin precursors. The end result would be minimized pain and swelling.

A clinical study involving 41 healthy males and females was done wherein they took Naproxen once or twice daily for a duration of 1 week to check how much it thins the blood. The results were compared to a placebo then to an 81 mg aspirin. Results showed that platelet activity was reduced when patients took Naproxen and aspirin leading to the conclusion that both drugs have similar effects.

Naproxen is an OTC or over-the-counter drug in the United States although other nations release the drug only with a doctor’s prescription. You may order stocks at designated clinics, pharmacies and online drugstores. Make sure you check the source, manufacturer and expiry date to guarantee quality.

The drug is usually taken 2 times daily to treat arthritis, every 8 hours to treat gout and every 6 to 8 hours to treat pain. Naproxen should be swallowed whole and not chewed or crushed. It can be taken with a full glass of water or milk to avoid stomach upset. Only take the drug as recommended and make sure that you mix liquid suspensions well before ingestion.

Naproxen has the following structural formula:

Chemical structure of naproxen

• Molecular formula of naproxen is C14H14O3
• Chemical IUPAC Name is 2-(6-methoxynaphthalen-2-yl)propanoic acid
• Molecular weight is 230.259 g/mol
Naproxen available : 250mg tablets, 500mg tablets

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