Pain and fever are some of the most widely experienced medical conditions. At times, the body produces a few substances that can act as a catalyst to trigger an inflammation or swelling. In such instances, your doctor may prescribe a few drugs to ensure keep these catalysts from functioning actively and cause discomforts. Medications used to inhibit swelling and associated problems such as pains belong to a family of drugs called as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory steroids (NSAIDs). Of the widely used NSAIDs, Aleve is used for relieving pains, stiffness and swelling. You are advised to know the possible side effects of Aleve before starting your medication plan.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs consumed to reduce pains as well as inflammation, including conditions such as muscular pains, stiffness of joints, dental pains, etc. Aleve is taken both as an over the counter (OTC) drug and a prescribed drug. Upon taking the OTC route, you are advised to study all the instructions listed on its pack very carefully. Aleve works by controlling a few substances that are instrumental for the incidence of inflammation, pain or fever. Labelled as prostaglandins, these substances trigger swelling as a measure to hasten your recovery process. However, prostaglandins may also make you experience pain and fever as part of its normal functioning.
There are a few enzymes which are key to the production of prostaglandins; these are cyclooxygenase1 (COX1) and cyclooxygenase2 (COX2). You need to note that COX1 helps protect the walls of your intestines while COX2’s functioning is linked to the health of your joints and tendons. In general, NSAIDs are categorized into 2 distinctive types, viz., nonselective and selective NSAIDs. A few NSAIDs can inhibit both COX1 as well as COX2; these drugs belong to the category called non-selective drugs. Medications such as Aleve fall under the non-selective category. You may need to be watchful of the likely side effects non-selective drugs can trigger in the abdomen. On the other hand, drugs working only on COX1 are termed as selective NSAIDs.
Aleve and its side effects
Aleve is consumed to obtain needful remedies from a wide range of pains – especially those triggered by inflammation. It is commonly used for the case management of gout, arthritis, swollen tendons (tendonitis), cramps experienced during menstrual cycles, etc. Aleve belongs to a class of drugs that have a much slower way of working. This is mainly because of a very gradual and steady rate of absorption of this drug. So, if your need is to treat pain in an urgent manner, your physician is likely to recommend another drug which has a relatively faster action. Aleve is administered based on a number of factors; key among them is the nature of your medical condition, how your body responds to this medication, your age and bodyweight.
You are advised to take needful guidance from your treating physician to decide on the strength of dosage. As the usage of this medication can lead to a spell of internal bleeding, your doctor may start the dosage forms at a very low level of strength. Common side effects of Aleve are dizziness, indigestion, heartburn, drowsiness, abdominal conditions like nausea and headaches. If you report one or more of these discomforts, your physician may reduce the dosage levels of Aleve. In some rare cases, you may be asked to consume a counteracting medication to inhibit the intensity of these side effects.
Risks of high blood pressure
This drug is likely to increase your blood pressure level. You are hence advised to measure your blood pressure readings in a routine manner. Even if you have had no earlier spell of hypertension, you may witness an increase in blood pressure ranging from 4 to 6 mm Hg. If you are already consuming drugs to keep blood pressure level under control, Aleve may impair the efficacy of such drugs to a greater extent. Aleve may also result in excessive retention of fluids in your body. The key sign to watch for is the swelling of limbs. So, if you have a renal condition or problems associated with the discharge of waste, your physician is unlikely to prescribe Aleve.
Internal bleeding and other side effects
Of the many other discomforts, stomach-upset is a most widely experienced side effect of Aleve. Along with it, you are also likely to experience side effects like vomiting, nausea, gas formation, heartburn, indigestion and internal bleeding. Those who consume alcohol regularly are at added risks; Aleve when taken with alcohol can cause internal bleeding as well as ulcers in your abdominal tract. It is hence recommended to consume Aleve along with fluids like milk or along with a meal. In case of an acute build-up of stomach acids or heartburn, your physician may prescribe medications to control elevated level of acid build-up.
Elongated time to clot blood and risks of taking other blood thinning drugs
You also need to remember that Aleve can inhibit your body’s blood clotting efficiency. As a result, you are likely to develop bruises easily. This can turn into a serious condition when you experience an accidental cut. With the intake of Aleve, you may bleed more than usual from even smaller sized cuts. This adverse outcome is encountered due to Aleve’s capability to lengthen the clotting time of blood. It is for the same reason your physician will check if you are consuming drugs such as warfarin, heparin or dabigatran, etc. – commonly referred as blood thinning medications. Information about the intake of such blood thinners as well as the strength of such drugs needs to be shared with your medical team before starting a course of Aleve.
Aleve may also increase the risks of a likely heart attack. Though aspirin is an exception to this effect, nearly all NSAIDs bear risks of triggering a cardiac related medical condition. So, if you have prior experiences of having a cardiac arrest or a heart attack, you need to inform your doctor before starting to take Aleve. People living with a cardiac condition need to be more cautious when they are taking Aleve over a long term or if they are consuming a stronger dosage form of this drug. Discomforts such as excessive weariness, changes in bodyweight – especially, an increase in body weight, inflammation of feet or ankles need to be reported as and when such effects are noticed.
Hypersensitivity or being allergic to Aleve
A few people may have known allergies or hypersensitivity to Aleve. It is a good practice to tell your medical team about such conditions. Aleve may trigger some allergic reactions like respiratory problems, skin rashes, inflammation of organs like throat or lips, respiratory disorders like gasping, etc. In very remote instances, this drug is likely to result in sneezing, itchiness as well as restlessness. If you are a resident of the US, it is highly recommended to get in touch with 911 as quickly as possible. If you are living in any of the Canadian provinces, you are advised to contact a poison control center located closer to your home.
Side effects of Aleve on elderly people
Medical research shows that people aged above 65 years are likely to be more sensitive to Aleve. Adverse reactions may turn serious among older people who live with autoimmune conditions like arthritis. If the drug is procured as an OTC medication – i.e., without proper medical supervision, there is a possibility of taking the drug over a longer term. Always remember not to continue taking Aleve for not more than a few days – regardless of the discomfort and the outcomes. In general elderly people must never take Aleve for more than 4 days.
If your condition remains unchanged after taking OTC medications, discontinue the use of Aleve and seek professional help as promptly as possible. People who have continuing to take Aleve for a fairly longer term have reported many serious side effects such as cardiac problems, renal dysfunction, internal bleeding, ulcers, hypertension, etc. Studies link the possibilities of bleeding internally as well as ulcers upon continued intake of Aleve for more than 5 months. These risks can only multiply further if you keep taking the doses for upto a year. It is hence considered a good practice to study all the instructions printed on the pack of this drug prior to starting your medication plan.
Very rare or relatively unknown side effects of Aleve
You need to note that the abovementioned side effects do not form a complete list of this drug’s side effects or allergic reactions. You may hence need to discuss with your treating physician upon noticing newer side effects like severe headache, suddenly turning sensitive to light, difficulties experienced while urinating, frequent episodes of tiredness etc. You are advised to quickly seek medical attention immediately if you witness serious side effects like slurring of speech, inflammation of oral organs, pain in the chest, gasping for breath, etc.
In sum, you need to inform your treating doctor if you have a medical history of heart problems, hypertension, renal disorders, etc. You need to tell about these conditions prior to beginning a course of Aleve. It also becomes extremely essential to talk about the drugs you are currently taking; for the same reason, you also need to tell your medical team about the treatment plans you are pursuing presently.