Naproxen vs Advil for Pain: Comparison of Differences & Uses


It is the generic name of a brand medication called Aleve. It belongs to the group of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

This medication works by blocking the action of cyclo-oxygenase (COX), an enzyme in the human body that is involved in the production of prostaglandins, in response to injury and in certain conditions. The medication has been used in the US since 1980.


It is typically prescribed to relieve inflammation and pain in adolescents aged 16 years and over and adults with the following conditions:

  • acute gout (a condition characterized by the sudden onset of severe pain, warmth, swelling, and redness of a joint);
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • ankylosing spondylitis (a type of arthritis affecting the joints of the spine);
  • osteoarthritis;
  • painful disorders of the skeleton and muscles, like – tendon inflammation (when a tendon swells up and becomes painful after a tendon injury), sprains, back pain, strains, or neck pain.

Moreover, the medication can be taken under medical supervision by children to treat:

  • period pain (dysmenorrhoea) – for girls of any age;
  • diseases of the joints for children from 2 years;
  • bone and muscle disorders for babies from 1 month.


The usual recommended dose is one 250-mg tablet twice a day. Because seniors are more likely to experience side effects, they should take the lowest possible effective dosage.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • skin rash;
  • dizziness;
  • drowsiness;
  • tiredness;
  • changes in vision;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • headaches;
  • confusion.

Rare side effects may include:

  • bleeding gums;
  • anxiety;
  • canker sores;
  • back or leg pains;
  • chest discomfort or pain;
  • cold sweats;
  • blindness;
  • clay-colored stools;
  • loosening of the skin;
  • blue lips and fingernails;
  • cool, pale skin;
  • blood in the urine or stools;
  • cracks in the skin;
  • change in the ability to see colors;
  • lightheadedness;
  • confusion;
  • nervousness;
  • hoarseness;
  • nosebleeds;
  • coughing which occasionally produces a frothy pink sputum;
  • nightmares;
  • lower back or side pain;
  • pounding in the ears;
  • tingling in the feet, hands, or lips;
  • pains in the stomach, possibly radiating to the back;
  • red lumps under the skin, mostly on the legs;
  • discomfort in the arms, back, jaw, or neck;
  • burning in the throat;
  • pain in the knees or ankles.

Before you start taking this nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, it is essential that your healthcare provider knows:

  • if you have liver problems;
  • if you have kidney problems;
  • if you have high LDL and total cholesterol;
  • if you have high blood glucose (sugar);
  • if you have asthma or any other allergic disorder;
  • if you have an inflammatory bowel disorder, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease;
  • if you have ever had blood clotting problems;
  • if you have ever had a duodenal or stomach ulcer;
  • if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like – indomethacin, aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac;
  • if you are a smoker;
  • if you are taking any other prescription or OTC medicines as well as herbal and complementary medicines;
  • if you have a connective tissue disorder, like – systemic lupus erythematosus (an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks various organs or cells);
  • if you have high blood pressure;
  • if you have a problem with your circulation or blood vessels;
  • if you are over 65 years of age;
  • if you are  breastfeeding;
  • if you are pregnant or trying for a baby;


It is the brand name of a drug called ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that works by stopping the production of prostaglandins, substances in the body that cause inflammation.


The medication is typically used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In children under 12, it is used for high temperature and pain due to a sore throat, colds, earache, and immunization.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • bruising;
  • pain in the chest below the breastbone;
  • belching;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • dizziness;
  • difficult breathing;
  • difficult or painful urination;
  • a feeling of indigestion;
  • headaches.

Rare side effects may include:

  • difficulties with swallowing;
  • itching skin;
  • a dry cough;
  • pounding in the ears;
  • purplish patches on the skin;
  • swelling around the eyes, lips, face, or tongue;
  • stomach pain;
  • skin eruptions;
  • red skin lesions, usually with a purple center;
  • dilated neck veins;
  • seizures;
  • blue lips, fingernails, or skin;
  • severe sunburn;
  • shallow breathing;
  • slurred speech;
  • red, irritated eyes;
  • skin thinness;
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin;
  • eye pain;
  • swelling or soreness of the tongue;
  • fluid-filled skin blisters;
  • extreme fatigue;
  • excess flatulence (intestinal gas);
  • white spots on the lips or inside the mouth.

Do not use this nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug if you:

  • have uncontrolled heart failure;
  • are allergic to any ingredients of this medication;
  • have a bleeding in the brain;
  • have had allergic symptoms (e.g., asthma, runny nose, nasal polyps, itchy skin rash,  swelling of the throat, face, or tongue) caused by any medications;
  • are allergic to other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ketorolac, ibuprofen, diclofenac) or loratadine;
  • have severely reduced or worsening kidney function;
  • are in the third trimester of pregnancy;
  • are breast-feeding a baby;
  • have a severely reduced liver function;
  • have high blood potassium levels;
  • have had recent heart bypass surgery;
  • have a bleeding in the intestines or stomach;
  • have an inflammatory bowel disease, such as – Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis;
  • have a bleeding disorder.

Drug Interactions

This nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug can negatively interact with other drugs, particularly:

  • beta-blockers like timolol (Timoptic), propranolol (Inderal), metoprolol (Toprol, Lopressor), and atenolol (Tenormin);
  • ACE inhibitors like lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), and enalapril (Vasotec);
  • aspirin (Ecotrin);
  • angiotensin receptor blockers like irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), candesartan (Atacand), olmesartan (Benicar), and valsartan (Diovan);
  • lithium;
  • fexofenadine;
  • antacids like Citrical, Tums, or Rolaids;
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro);
  • warfarin (Jantoven, Coumadin);
  • Nasacort;
  • methotrexate (Trexall);
  • cholestyramine (Questran);
  • phenylephrine;
  • diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), furosemide (Lasix), and chlorthalidone (Thalitone);
  • meloxicam;
  • sucralfate (Carafate).

Naproxen vs Advil – Which Is Better?  

These over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, inflammation, and high temperature (fever).

According to a study that examined the effectiveness of both these NSAIDs, people receiving naproxen first did not considerably improve further when crossed over to ibuprofen.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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