Fever and pains are commonly occurring medical conditions. When your body makes substances which function as agents of inflammation, these conditions are likely to occur. In such instances, you are advised to take drugs to prevent these agents from showing up. Widely used drugs to control pains and swelling are categorized under nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory steroids (NSAIDs). There are many types of NSAIDs – the most popular classification is based on the mode of action of these drugs. Naproxen is a NSAID belonging to the nonselective category. It is however important to know the side effects triggered by naproxen before taking it.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are taken to decrease discomforts such as fever, pain and swelling. Some of these drugs can be purchased through over the counter (OTC) route while a few others need prescriptions from your treating doctor. Always remember that the OTC variants are less powerful than their prescribed counterparts. NSAIDs are the most widely used medications all over the world. Every year, these drugs account for approximately 9% of all prescribed medicines.
How do NSAIDs work?
These drugs inhibit your body from making agents responsible for fever, inflammation as well as pain. These agents are known as prostaglandins. As a natural reaction, these substances stimulate swelling – which is an essential prerequisite to recover. But, in this process – you will also experience fever as well as pain. The enzymes responsible for the making these agents – i.e., prostaglandins, are cyclooxygenase (COX). There are two forms of this enzyme namely COX1 and COX2. Of these two, COX1 safeguards your intestinal linings while COX2 are associated with joints.
In essence, NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. On this front, NSAIDs are classified into two types, namely selective and nonselective medicines. A few NSAIDs work only to control the actions of COX2. These drugs are known as selective NSAIDs. These are believed to protect your intestines from possible injuries or internal bleeding. Drugs like celebrex (made of celecoxib) fall under this category of NSAIDs. On the other hand, there are NSAIDs which control COX1 as well as COX2. Medications such as naproxen, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. fall under this genre. However, these drugs may trigger few side effects in your abdominal region.
Naproxen and its side effects
This drug is taken to get relief from pains caused by inflammation. It is widely prescribed in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. This type of NSAID gets absorbed gradually. Hence, it is not known to give a quick relief from pain. So, if you are in need of a faster remedy from pain, your doctor may prescribe another fast-acting pain relieving medicine.
Dosage levels of naproxen are dependent on your body’s response to this drug as well as the severity of your clinical condition. It is not a good practice to enhance the dosage level without consulting your treating doctor. As this drug may trigger episodes of internal bleeding – especially in your abdominal region, it is often prescribed at its lowest possible dosage level. In case of moderate levels of pains – such as joint pains – it may take a few days for the drug to start its remedial action.
The most common side effects of naproxen include heartburn, drowsiness, nausea and headache. Your treating doctor may advise a reduced dosage of naproxen if you complain about any of these side effects. In some instances, a counteracting drug is given to control these adverse reactions.
Stomach disorders – This is the most widely experienced side effect of NSAIDs like naproxen. You may witness mild, adverse reactions such as nausea, indigestion, vomiting, formation of gas (bloating / flatulence), heartburn and internal ulcers or bleeding. If you have the habit of consuming alcohol, taking naproxen along with alcohol can lead to ulcers or bleeding in the stomach. Instead, your treating doctor will advise you to take naproxen with your meal or fluids such as milk. If the effects are severe, drugs that can inhibit production of stomach acids are prescribed.
Bleeding as well as bruising – As naproxen can limit your body’s capability to clot blood, you may develop bruises with ease. You may also run the risk of bleeding even from smaller nicks and cuts. This is because of naproxen’s ability to prolong the clotting process of your blood. Your doctor will confirm if you are taking blood thinning drugs such as heparin, dabigatran, warfarin, etc. before prescribing naproxen.
Hypertension –Naproxen can increase your blood pressure levels. It is hence highly recommended to check your pressure levels on a regular basis. This reaction can occur even among those who have no prior incidence of high blood pressure. It has been observed that intake of naproxen may raise your pressure level from 4 to 7 mm of mercury (mmHg). Apart from raising your blood pressure levels, this drug may also minimize the effects of medications taken to stabilize your pressure level.
Renal disorders – Your doctor may not recommend NSAIDs like naproxen if you have kidney related health conditions. A common side effect naproxen may trigger is retention of liquids in the body. This shows up as swelling of your limbs – especially, feet.
Likely risks of strokes and cardiac problems – NSAIDs like naproxen can enhance the risks of cardiac arrests as well as strokes. However, NSAIDs like aspirin are an exception to this effect; almost all other NSAIDs run cardiac risks. Medical studies indicate that such risks are more likely in the first few days of using naproxen. This may affect even those without prior history of strokes or cardiac dysfunction. Further studies on this topic have identified a close association between a stronger dosage or a prolonged usage of naproxen with an increase in risks of strokes and cardiac dysfunction.
Allergies naproxen may trigger – In very rare instances, naproxen is known to cause a few allergic reactions. Such rare side effects include rashes on skin, respiratory problems, gasping for breath, inflammation of facial organs – such as eyes, lips, etc. In some very rare cases, you may experience itchiness, restlessness or sneezing. If you live in the US, you are advised to contact 911 immediately. If you are a resident of Canada, you need to get in touch with a poison control center without delay.
Clinical studies reveal that people aged above 60 years are more vulnerable most of these side effects. Also, people with chronic ailments – such as arthritis, etc., are more likely to experience such reactions. In general, it is not a good practice to take NSAIDs like naproxen for a longer period. NSAIDs purchased through the OTC route cannot be used for more than 9 days in case of pains and not more than 4 days if you have fever. Chronic or long term usage of naproxen may trigger bigger risks. These include damage of kidneys or incidence of other renal health problems, cardiac dysfunction as well as acute spells of internal ulcers.
Also, you need to talk to your treating doctor if you observe new side effects such as difficulties while urinating, excessive weariness, severe headache or if you are suddenly turning extremely sensitive to sunlight or other sources of light. Always remember to seek quick medical help – on an emergency mode – if you experience adverse side effects such as pain in your chest, respiratory problems, slurring of speech as well as inflammation of facial and oral organs
It is considered a very good practice to read all the dosage instructions listed on the label of naproxen. Clinical studies link the risks of internal bleeding to continued dosage of naproxen for four to five months. These risks are seen to multiply if you extend the dosage timespan for a period of 12 months.
In sum, stomach related problems are the most common side effects of naproxen. But, if you have a clinical history of cardiac problems, renal dysfunction or hypertension, you need to tell your treating doctor about such conditions prior to taking this medicine. It also becomes equally important to tell your doctor about the drugs you are already taking or other treatment plans you are currently pursuing. Always remember to that you will need to share all these inputs prior to starting the dosage of naproxen.