Is Aleve Right for You?

Blue pills in a bottle.
Should you take Aleve?. Aisha Thomas/EyeEm/Getty Images

Aleve is a commonly used over the counter pain reliever. It can be found throughout the United States and brings pain relief for a variety of problems. Find out more about this popular drug and see if it may help you.

Active Ingredient

naproxen sodium

Aleve is generally taken every 8 to 12 hours.

How It Works

Aleve (naproxen) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication that is available over the counter.

Naproxen is also available in prescription strength under various brand names and as a generic drug.

OTC Aleve comes in caplets, tablets, gelcaps and liquid gels. It can be used to relieve pain from headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, menstrual cramps, colds and toothaches as well as bring down fevers.

NSAIDs work by stopping the production of enzymes in the body that lead to fever, pain and inflammation.

Other common NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin (ibuprofen) and aspirin.

Side Effects

Although widely used, Aleve and other NSAIDs can cause several side effects. Some are serious and others are just annoying.

Common symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Sores in Mouth
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling Lightheaded
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty Falling Asleep or Staying Asleep
  • Cold Symptoms
  • Burning or Tingling in the Arms or Legs
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Hearing Problems

More serious side effects should be reported to your health care provider right away or may require immediate medical attention.

These include:

  • Changes in Your Vision
  • Feeling Like the Pill is Stuck in Your Throat
  • Unexplainable Weight Gain
  • Sore Throat, Fever, Chills or Other Signs of Infection
  • Blisters or Rash
  • Skin Redness
  • Itching or Hives
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Excessive Tiredness
  • Pain in Upper Right Abdomen
  • Significant Nausea or Loss of Appetite
  • Yellowing of the Skin or Eye
  • Flu-like Symptoms
  • Bruises or Purple Blotches Under the Skin
  • Pale Skin
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Cloudy, Discolored or Bloody Urine
  • Back Pain
  • Difficult or Painful Urination

Warnings and Concerns

Aleve is not right for everyone. You should not take this medication if you are allergic to NSAIDs, ibuprofen or aspirin.

Talk to your health care provider before taking Aleve if you or anyone in your family currently have or have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, diabetes or if you smoke.

People that take NSAIDs (other than aspirin) may be at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke than those who do not. The risk may be higher for those taking these medications for a long period of time. They can occur without warning and may be fatal. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience: shortness of breath, chest pain, weakness in one part of the body or slurred speech. These could be signs of a heart attack or stroke.

Naproxen and other NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach or intestines.

Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking Aleve if you are taking:

  • Other NSAIDs
  • Blood Thinners (such as Coumadin)
  • Oral Steroids
  • ACE Inhibitors
  • Beta Blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Lithium
  • Diabetes Medications
  • Methotrexate
  • Phenytroin
  • Probenecid
  • Sulfa Antiobitics
  • Other Pain Relieving Medications

Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or you become pregnant while taking Aleve.

Talk to your doctor before taking Aleve if you are on a low sodium diet; have asthma; have a frequently stuffy or runny nose or nasal polyps; anemia; swelling of the hands, arms, lower legs, feet or ankles; or liver or kidney disease.

Tell your doctor you are taking Aleve prior to having surgery or dental surgery.

What Else You Need to Know

If you are taking Aleve and your symptoms worsen, last longer than 10 days, your fever lasts longer than 3 days, the part of your body that was painful gets red and swollen, or you develop new or unexpected symptoms, stop taking the medication and contact your health care provider.

If you are having a coronary artery bypass graft (CBAG), do not take naproxen right before or after surgery.

Aleve is an effective medication that can relieve pain and reduce fevers. It does not need to be taken as frequently as other over the counter pain relievers and fever reducers but it is not right for everyone. If you are not sure, talk to your health care provider before taking it or any other medication.

Aleve should not be used in children under 12 years old unless specifically recommended by his or her doctor.


Naproxen MedlinePlus 28 Aug 13. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. US National Library of Medicine. Department of Health and Human Services. 17 Sep 13.

Aleve Caplets Bayer Healthcare Consumer Care 16 Aug 10. Bayer Healthcare LLC. 17 Sep 13.

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