Drugs belonging to a genre called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used for treating various categories of pain; such as back pain, pain in joints, headaches and / or migraines, cramped muscles, arthritis, swollen joints, etc. NSAIDs can also be consumed for treating fever, painful conditions triggered by common cold or flu. In this light, how does naproxen and ibuprofen vary in their modes of action? It is a wise thing to understand the differences between these two meds before commencing your treatment.

Ibuprofen and naproxen belong to a class of meds known as non-selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs. Both these meds are known to inhibit the production of COX – 2 – an enzyme your body makes to signal swelling / inflammation and pains. These drugs may also work upon COX – 1 – another enzyme linked to the protection of inner lining of your tummy. In this milieu, it becomes essential to know more about ibuprofen.

What is ibuprofen?

This is a nonselective NSAID consumed for the case management of fever and bodily pains. The main ingredients of ibuprofen are known to control enzymes which trigger the production of prostaglandin; this chemical catalyses healing by promoting swelling / internal inflammation. This key task of ibuprofen is to stop such inflammation. As a result, ibuprofen is prescribed (and also consumed as an over the counter med in some parts of the world) for migraines, headaches, painful joints, muscle pain as well as for treating pains in back region.

What is naproxen?

Naproxen is also a nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug – NSAID. It is most commonly available as a brand known as aleve. Naproxen takes a longer time to work on pains and related discomforts. Owing to the long acting nature of this NSAID, it is used for the case management of chronic problems such as pains caused by autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, etc.

Key differences between ibuprofen and naproxen

The main difference in between ibuprofen and naproxen is the latter is fairly long acting. These two meds are known to cause discomforts in the gastric tract, mostly in the form of internal bruising, ulcers, bleeding, etc. Among these two drugs, naproxen is more likely to trigger such problems. Given this backdrop, ibuprofen is widely used for the treatment of pains in children.

Safety precautions needed while taking NSAIDs

As a precautionary measure, inform your doctor of your existing treatment / medication plans. It is a good practice to make a list of drugs you are currently consuming; in this list, include drugs such as over the counter meds, prescribed meds, herbal aids as well as dietary supplements of vitamins, proteins and / or other minerals.

It can be unsafe to take multiple versions of NSAIDs – neither selective NSAIDs nor nonselective NSAIDs – at the same timeslot. It is not a good thing to take long-acting NSAIDs that can promote risks of gastric problems such as ulcers. In general, talk to your treating doctor prior to start using NSAIDs over the long term – say, for 5 days or more.

Either of these drugs may cause a few adverse discomforts and side effects like diarrhea or watery stools, bloating, gas formation, GERD or acid reflux. Upon witnessing any of these gastric conditions, it is highly recommended to talk to the caregiving team without much delay.

Last but not least, those who experience symptoms of a likely heart attack are advised to take clinical support and needful care on an urgent basis. People living in the US can reach out to 911 or dial the helpline of food and drug administration (FDA). Canadian residents are advised to establish immediate contact with Health Canada.

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