Aleve vs Advil: What Is the Best Painkiller?

Aleve is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sold under the brand name Naproxen. Advil is also a NSAID and it is commonly referred to as Ibuprofen. NSAIDs are drugs that are normally prescribed to manage and reduce fever, pain, and inflammation. They achieve this effect by preventing the body from producing prostaglandins. These are substances that are formed when the body tissues are injured. Prostaglandins contribute to the swellings and pains that the body experiences. Stopping the production of this substance therefore prevents the effects of inflammation. The pains that the NSAIDs relief include:

  • Headaches;
  • Back ache;
  • Menstrual cramps;
  • Muscular aches;
  • Tooth aches;
  • Pains from common cold and flu;
  • Arthritis.

In the process of relieving the pain both of the drugs Aleve and Advil interfere with other functions of the body and in the process creating side effects. The side effects vary depending on your age and the length of time that you use the painkillers.

Common side effects include:

  • Headache;
  • Nausea;
  • Heartburn;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Stomach upset.

Other side effects associated with both drugs are:

  • Easy bruising or bleeding;
  • Difficult and painful swallowing;
  • Hearing changes;
  • Mood changes;
  • Signs of kidney problems noticeable with the change in the amount of urine;
  • Unexplained stiff neck;
  • Changes in vision;
  • Sudden weight gain;
  • Symptoms of heart failure that may include swelling of the ankles and feet and unusual exhaustion.

The long-term use of Aleve and Advil can lead to more serious adverse reactions. Patients suffering from clonic pains will normally take NSAIDs for a long time. This results to decreased level of prostagradins that regulate kidney pressure to enable the organ to filter the body fluids. The decrease in prostagradins resulting from the long-term use of the painkillers will disturb the functioning of the kidney. This will show in the form of fluid retention in the body and the amount of urine passed. When you notice these changes, while using the drugs, it's advisable to see a doctor immediately.

The other organ that bears the strain of extended NSAIDs use is the heart. By working harder, there is pressure to the cardiovascular system, which can eventually lead to a stroke. It is worse with the use of high dosages of the drugs. If you experience the following symptoms, be warned of a probable heart attack and see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Chest pain;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Weakness in the arms;
  • Weakness in the legs.

People living with medical conditions like kidney or liver disease, heart disease, and stomach ulcers will be more susceptible to these side effects than those without.


The Aleve dosage is based on the medical condition being treated. The tablet is taken within the durations of 8 to 12 hours with a glass of water. To minimize stomach irritation, taking milk, food, or antacids alongside Aleve is recommended. After taking the painkiller, lie down for a minimum 10 minutes. Unless for chronic conditions and with the advice of a doctor, you should not take Aleve for more than 10 days. It's advisable to take the drug after the onset of pain because if you allow the pain to worsen, the effectiveness of the drug will decrease.

With Advil, the dosage of patients 12 years and above is one tablet or gel caplet every 4 to 6 hours. In case the single tablet is not effective, the dosage can be added to two tablets. You should however not exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours. Just like with the sister drug Aleve, Advil should be taken together with food, milk, or an antacid.

Drug Interactions

There are a number of drugs that you can safely use alongside the NSAIDs. These include the ACE inhibitors e.g. Captopril and Lisinopril. Losartan, Valsatan, Cidofovir, and corticosteroids like Prednisone are all safe to take alongside both Aleve and Advir. Duretics like Flusemide are also safe to use as well as the diuretics.

The unsafe drugs to use are those than can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that are also known to cause bleeding. These include blood thinners like Warfarin, Dabigatran, and Enoxaprin, together with anti-platelet drugs such as Clopidogrel.

Taking other painkillers alongside these drugs, can double the chances of developing the side effects.


The precautions you need to take when using the painkillers are meant to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the use of the drugs. The precautions are common for both drugs. They include:

  • Let your doctor know if you are allergic to other NSAIDs.
  • Inform the doctor or pharmacist if you suffer from any blood disorders like bleeding, clotting, or anemia.
  • Tell the doctor if you have previously suffered from heart diseases like a heart attack.
  • If you are on a salt restricted diet, let the doctor know.
  • Disclose any intestinal problems like ulcers or heart burn.
  • In case of a pregnancy, it's important to make it known to the doctor due to the effects that the drugs have on an unborn baby during the first and the last trimesters. Breastfeeding mothers should also let the doctor know because the drugs pass through breast milk and can adversely affect the baby.


An overdose of the painkillers will cause drowsiness, stomach pain, and probably seizures. Excessive overdose can cause difficulty in breathing and passing out. When this happens, call a doctor immediately.


When you miss your dose, with either of the drugs, take it as soon as you remember. Keep the medicines at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. Avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco, or marijuana when taking the NSAIDs, they can make you feel drowsy and increase the chances of intestinal bleeding. Because the use of the painkillers makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, it is advisable to wear protective clothes or sunscreen when outdoors to avoid getting heat burns and blisters.