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The Benefits and Side Effects of Naproxen

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A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, naproxen is a common over-the-counter painkiller used mostly to treat headaches and arthritis. Because it reduces the hormones that cause pain and inflammation, the medicine is often recommended for menstrual cramps, bursitis, tendinitis, gout, and others minor pains in the body.

Studies that have been done showed naproxen to have a lower risk of cardiovascular side effects than other NSAIDs, and is especially helpful in the treatment of arthritis. A committee was even formed to discuss changing the label on the medication bottle to reflect this finding, but it failed in a 16 to 9 vote. One committee member said it was because despite evidence that naproxen is safer than others in terms of causing stroke or heart attack doesn’t mean it is completely safe.

One of the best things about naproxen is that it begins working very quickly after you take it. It also lasts longer than other NSAIDs, with the typical dose every 12 hours instead of every six to eight hours. It remains steady when relieving your pain and is often used after surgeries to help speed up the healing process and keep pain to a minimum.

Naproxen can be used in the treatment of migraines, actually reducing the amount of attacks within six months. Studies have shown that half of the people who took naproxen for severe migraines had no episodes at all, compared to one-fifth of people who took a placebo pill. Not only did it reduce or completely subtract headaches, but it also helped with nausea and vomiting that can sometimes accompany severe migraine headaches. You can find naproxen under the brand names Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox and Anaprox DS, and Neprelan where over-the-counter pharmaceuticals are sold. If you typically get headaches at the same time each month, like during your monthly cycle, you can take it a few days before you start your period and it’s safe to take until a few days afterward. There’s no chance of addiction with naproxen.

On the other hand, a 2004 study found naproxen was used more in men and women who had had a heart attack or stroke in the past. It can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding in some people. Naproxen may also raise your blood pressure, cause an upset stomach, and increase your risk of bleeding in the case of an injury. Other side effects include gastritis, an inflamed stomach, indigestion, ulcers, drowsiness, itching, dizziness, gas, cold symptoms, lightheadedness, problems sleeping, rash, blisters, fatigue, unexplained weight gain, vision changes, reddening or paleness of your skin, a fast heartbeat, loss of appetite, and edema.

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