Naproxen vs Ibuprofen: Uses, Dosages, Side Effects

Naproxen and Ibuprofen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are effective in management of mild to moderate fever, pain, and inflammations. They work by reducing the concentrations of prostaglandins and chemical compounds responsible for inflammation, fever, and pain. In relation to prostaglandins, both drugs act by block prostaglandins enzyme (Cyclooxygenase) which results in lower levels of prostaglandins hence regulation of any induced pain, inflammation, or fever. Although Ibuprofen and Naproxen used the same mechanism to manage pain, they are quite distinct from each other as they bear different chemical properties

General information

Naproxen: It is also known under brand names such as Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, and Naprelan. The drug was first available in 1976 as a prescription drug with the name Naprosyn. It was later in 1980, released as a prescription medicine under the name Anaprox. In June 1994, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it as an over-the-counter drug though in a limited dosage. Little is known about its first manufacturing company. However, Bayer Healthcare (Global pharmaceutical and life science institution that began in Germany under Friedrich Bayer) is responsible for the marketing and advertising of the Naproxen brand name Aleve.

Ibuprofen: Sold with its brand names Advil, PediaCare Fever, Medipren, and Nuprin in the market, Ibuprofen can also be used to treat menstrual cramps and various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. The drug, first discovered in 1950 in United Kingdom by Dr. Stewarts Adams and his team, was patented in 1961. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ibuprofen as an over-the-counter drug in United States in May 1984 although it had formally been in the market since 1971. Its development is as a result of the quest of medical practitioners trying to find a rather powerful NSAID than the aspirin medications.


Naproxen and Ibuprofen dosages are available in the form of tablets and are recommended for use with meals to reduce stomach upsets. The dosages are generally based on the patient's age and the type of ailment. Patients are allowed to adjust the dose under medical recommendation if it is not working well with them. However, when it comes to dosage concentration on specific diseases and patients age the dosage of these tablets differ.

Naproxen: The physician's dose for the Naproxen controlled-release tablets is 375mg-500mg taken twice a day. The standard Naproxen dose for pain in adults is 250g after every 6-8 hours or 500mg pills twice-daily for the regular naproxen tablets. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis are treated with 500mg-1000mg twice a day. Take the 250mg Naproxen tablets after an initial 500mg dose every 6-8 hours for the treatment of menstrual cramps. The usual dose for children is 5mg, but children below the age of two are not allowed to take Naproxen medications.

Ibuprofen: The typical physician's prescription for Ibuprofen is 1.2g to 3.2g daily. However, the ideal Advil dosage for adults experiencing minor aches, menstrual cramps, mild to moderate pains, and fever is 200mg-400 mg after every 4-6 hours. Arthritis patients are prescribed with the Ibuprofen tablets of 300mg-800mg taken 3 to 4 times daily. For juvenile arthritis, the dosage usually is 20mg-40mg divided into 3-4 doses. The approved Ibuprofen fever and pain dosage for children aged six months to 12 years are 5mg-10mg after every 6-8 hours though it can be adjusted to a maximum of 40mg daily. Unless instructed by a physician ibuprofen tablets treating fever and pain should not be taken for more than ten days.

Drug, disease, and alcohol interactions

Not all drugs and health conditions interact well with Naproxen and Ibuprofen since both are known to have adverse effects while taken with certain medical drugs. Consider the case of alcohol, lithium drugs, and drugs administered to reduce blood pressure, methotrexate and aminoglycoside drugs, as well as anticoagulants and cyclosporine medicines. While taking Naproxen and Ibuprofen medications, you should not consume more three alcoholic beverages in a day as large amounts of alcohol is prune to developing stomach ulcers when taken with these drugs. Naproxen and Ibuprofen interact by increasing the levels of lithium drugs like Lithobid and Eskalith that reduce lithium's kidney excretion causing lithium toxicity.

Both drugs lower the effect of blood pressure drugs given to reduce a patient's blood pressure hence should not be taken such medicines. When combined with aminoglycoside and methotrexate, these drugs increase the blood levels of methotrexate and aminoglycoside which causes adverse effects. Naproxen and Ibuprofen also increase the severe effects of Cyclosporine. When taken with anticoagulants, the two drugs may result in excessive bleeding as they have the ability to thin the blood. Aspirin reacts adversely with Naproxen and Ibuprofen hence should be avoided while taking the two drugs. It is therefore advised to make your physicians aware of the medicines you are using and the health conditions you are suffering from so that they know the correct prescriptions to administer.

Naproxen: Asthma patients or person with asthma attack history and allergic reactions to NSAIDs should not take this drug as they are at a higher risk of developing ulcers if they do so.

Ibuprofen: It should not be taken with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Citalopram, Fluoxetine, and Paroxetine. This is because Ibuprofen combination with SSRIs increases the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

Side Effects

There are various similar side effects of Naproxen and Ibuprofen. Constipation, nausea, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ear, rash, headaches, diarrhea, and drowsiness are the mild side effects exhibited while taking Naproxen and Ibuprofen medications. The adverse side effects that are manifested in both include high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, fluid retention, and heart failure. Immediate medical attention if the mild side effects are persistent or when having any adverse impact is advised on both medications.

Naproxen: No unique severe side effects exist in Naproxen and are absent in Ibuprofen. However, difficulties in breathing are a minor adverse reaction only present in Naproxen.

Ibuprofen: The only minor side effects not exhibited in Naproxen but appears in Ibuprofen is abdominal pain.