Review Of The Naproxen 500 Mg Tablet: Is It Safe?

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of naproxen

Pain is an unfortunate but necessary part of life. That explains why pain relievers are such big business at your local drugstore. If you hurt somewhere, there is always some pain relief medication that will claim to make you feel better.

Our first stop for a pain reliever is usually the medicine cabinet at home. There is always some sort of tablet, caplet, capsule or gel cap that we have left over from the last time we needed something to relieve pain. Maybe that medication is for a headache or minor muscle ache. Maybe it’s aspirin or one of those special formulations that will help reduce a fever. The approach of just using whatever you have on hand is fine for minor pain, but chronic pain calls for something more potent.

Maximum Chronic Pain Relief

Many people have recurring or ongoing pain from various forms of arthritis, gout, migraine headaches, bursitis and tendinitis. There are also people who have temporary periods of severe pain with kidney and gallstones. When dealing with these sources of chronic pain, common everyday pain relievers won’t do the job unless they are taken in dangerously high doses. People who disregard the dosage limitations and overdose on these pain relievers run the risk of causing severe damage to their liver or kidneys. It’s important to remember that death is a cure for pain, but it is certainly not the preferred treatment.

In recent years, we have seen the development of new classes of pain relievers. Many of the most effective ones for chronic pain are members of a class of medications called Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs for short. Like traditional pain medications, they too relieve pain and reduce fevers; however, they also relieve stiffness and reduce swelling. NSAIDs do not come without risk. As a group, they have a long list of potentially dangerous side effects and are not recommended for people with certain medical conditions. However, they are among the most effective chronic pain relievers available today. One of the most prominent and effective NSAIDs available is named Naproxen.

Naproxen 500 Mg and Chronic Pain

tablet and thermometer

Naproxen is a name that may not sound familiar. You have probably never seen the name Naproxen on television, in newspapers, in magazines or even on the web. That is because Naproxen is sold under trade names such as Aleve and Naprosyn. You will also find it in drug, grocery and department stores in less expensive generic forms located next to the brand name equivalents.

The dosage of Naproxen being reviewed here is the Naproxen 500 mg tablet. This is the largest single-tablet dose that you are likely to find at your local drug store. You need to be aware that not all 500 mg Naproxen tablets are created equal. They come in different forms.

  • Immediate release tablets release the entire dose of Naproxen into your body at once. They stop the pain quickly and are usually followed by smaller doses throughout the day.
  • Controlled release tablets slowly release the Naproxen into your body, providing pain relief over a long period of time; however, if the pain is severe, the controlled release may reduce the pain but not eliminate it.
  • Delayed release tablets have an enteric coating that prevents them from dissolving in the stomach. Nausea is one of the side effects associated with Naproxen, and the delayed release is intended to minimize that problem.

You should be aware that the Naproxen 500 mg tablet comes in two different chemical formulations. One is referred to as Naproxen, and the other is referred to as Naproxen Sodium. Both are effective pain relievers. The difference between them is at the molecular level and is a result of being manufactured by different processes. Usually, the tablets that you are likely to pick up at the drugstore are Naproxen Sodium.

Delayed Release Tablets Considerations

The enteric coating on the Naproxen Delayed-Release tablet is intended to eliminate, or at least minimize, nausea that some people experience when taking Naproxen. It allows the tablet to travel through the stomach and reach the small intestine undissolved. Once it reaches the small intestine, it will dissolve and start the pain relief process.

It may be that nausea is a bigger problem at the higher doses of Naproxen, which would explain why the enteric coating is only available at higher dosages like the 500 mg tablet. If you believe that you would have a problem with nausea but feel the 500 mg tablet is too strong, your only options are to:

  1. Look for a smaller dose of another Naproxen product that is enteric coated or treated in some other way to prevent nausea
  2. Find a suitable pain reliever that is not an NSAID

The usual trick of cutting the tablet in half to get a smaller dosage wouldn’t work because the cutting would destroy the enteric coating and defeat the purpose of the coating in the first place.

Naproxen Vs. Acetaminophen
(Brand Name Tylenol)

medicinal bottle aid


Acetaminophen is used as a treatment for a variety of low to medium level aches and pains. This includes headaches, toothaches, muscle and backaches, fevers and moderate pain associated with arthritis and menstrual periods. Although it may exhibit some anti-inflammatory capabilities, it is not recommended for that purpose.

The biggest downside to using Acetaminophen is the risk of liver damage caused by overdose. Following the dosage instructions on the package is a good start; however, you must remember that Acetaminophen is the pain relief component of many other medications. If you are taking multiple medications, it is possible for you to inadvertently overdose because you are getting Acetaminophen from multiple sources. Also, special care needs to be taken by those who drink alcohol or are already suffering from the effects of liver damage.


This is a much more potent pain reliever when compared to Acetaminophen. It addresses the more severe versions of the same types of pain. It also is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that is safe in larger doses. This makes it perfect for the extreme types of pain experienced by arthritis sufferers.

Naproxen has a bigger upside but, unfortunately, it has a bigger downside as well. It increases the risks of strokes, heart attacks, ulcers and blood coagulation disorders. There is also a risk of kidney damage as well as liver damage. It is not clear whether the risk of liver damage is less with Naproxen than with other relievers, or if the risk is not as great as some of the other risks.

Any Way You Want It

The Naproxen found most often in your local drugstore is the 220 mg Naproxen Sodium tablets, caplets or gel caps. If you are willing to order Naproxen online, you can get:

  • Tablets in a variety of strengths
  • Suspensions
  • Enteric-Coated Tablets in a variety of strengths
  • Extended-Release Tablets in a variety of strengths
  • Liquid-Filled Capsules

As mentioned before, extended-release tablets provide pain relief over a long period of time but are generally not effective when quick pain relief is what is desired. Also, like many extended-release tablets, it is strongly advised not to cut or crush them.

Naproxen Brand Names

Naproxen is sold under many names. Here are a few:

  • Aflaxen
  • Aleve Arthritis
  • Aleve
  • Anaprox DS
  • Anaprox
  • EC Naprosyn
  • Naprelan 500
  • Naprelan
  • Naprelan Dose Card
  • Naprosyn
  • Naxen (Canada)

FDA Approved Uses of Naproxen

When a drug is tested to gain FDA approval, the drug company is required to list what conditions the drug is expected to treat. It is then tested for those conditions. When it is approved, the drug company is only allowed to claim that it treats the conditions listed in the FDA application that passed the test. It is possible, even likely, that Naproxen will treat more conditions than are listed below. However, these are the only conditions that the manufacturer is permitted to claim:

  • Tendinitis
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Mild Pain
  • Dental Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Moderate Pain
  • Gout
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Bursitis
  • Long-term inflammation of the joints of the spine
  • Headache
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Considerations Before Taking Naproxen

girl cough because of allergy

As with all medications, you should evaluate the risks involved in taking Naproxen against the benefits you may receive. Consult your physician to help you evaluate how the medication will interact with your prescription medications, over-the-counter medication and supplements. Perhaps your physician can recommend alternative treatments that don’t have the risks associated with taking Naproxen.


Except for Naproxen in suspension, all doses sold over the counter are adult doses. Giving one of these to a child, because of body weight, would almost certainly constitute an overdose. If your pediatrician agrees that Naproxen is an appropriate treatment for your child, the pediatrician will determine what form and dosage is appropriate.


Unlike younger adults, seniors are more likely to suffer from kidney, liver and stomach conditions that have developed with age. This makes them more susceptible to the negative effects of Naproxen. For this reason, senior need to be on the lookout for the more serious negative effects which can be attributed to Naproxen. Aside from that, the risks for seniors are no greater than they are for any other adult.

On the positive side, seniors could benefit from regular low doses of Naproxen. They often have an assortment of aches and pains, the kind that Naproxen is good at relieving.


If you have any allergies or sensitivity to medications, you should consult with your physician to see if Naproxen is right for you. This is especially true if you have problems with Aspirin or any other NSAIDs. An allergy to any NSAID could very well mean that you are allergic to others in the NSAID family.

Drug Interactions

Before adding a new medication to the list of those you are already taking, it’s important to know that the new combination of medications will not cause you any harm. There is a long list of medicines which may require additional scrutiny if taken with Naproxen. If you are currently taking any of these medications, you should consult with your physician before starting Naproxen. Here is a partial list of the more recognizable medicines that may not interact well with Naproxen:

  • Alcohol
  • Aleve (Naproxen)
  • Anaprox (Naproxen)
  • Aspirin (NSAID)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Cortisone
  • Furosemide
  • Ginkgo
  • Heparin
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ)
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Ibuprofen (NSAID, brand names include Advil and Motrin)
  • Lithium
  • Naprelan (Naproxen)
  • Naprosyn (Naproxen)
  • Prednisone and variants
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Oxaprozin (Daypro)
  • Piroxicam (Feldene)

Side Effects

Naproxen and the other NSAIDs share the following relatively minor side effects:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rash
  • Headache, drowsiness, dizziness
  • Fluid retention

It can also have the following more serious and potentially life-threatening side effects:

  • Liver failure
  • Ulcers
  • Blood’s reduced ability to clot after surgical procedures or serious injury
  • Kidney failure (if Naproxen is overused)

As mentioned earlier, Naproxen is available with an enteric coating that prevents it from dissolving until it reaches the intestine. That coating is intended to minimize nausea and vomiting for which Naproxen is believed responsible.

Medical Problems

The following is a list of medical issues that might be negatively affected by taking Naproxen. Individuals with any of these conditions should be monitored closely while taking Naproxen for chronic pain:

  • Blood issues including anemia, bleeding problems, blood clots and stroke, history of ulcers and bleeding and high potassium levels
  • Circulatory issues including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and fluid retention
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease


The Naproxen 500 mg tablet is a powerful pain reliever. Many people who deal with severe pain daily swear by it. They understand the risks involved, and they accept those risks in exchange for the pain relief they receive.

Naproxen, even in lower doses like the commonly available 220 mg Naproxen Sodium tablet, still provides excellent pain relief. Its availability in a suspension makes it suitable for those who have problems taking pills. At lower doses, the known risks are presumably lower than with higher doses, which makes it a reasonably safe alternative to other pain relievers.

This medication is highly recommended in all forms and doses. Everyone who takes it should do so with the knowledge and approval of their physician and be on the lookout for signs of serious complications.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here