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Naproxen (brand name Aleve) and ibuprofen (brand name Advil) are two common over-the-counter pain relievers. People often reach for one of these when they have common aches and pains such as headaches, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, and arthritis.

Perhaps you’re wondering which medication is best for your particular pain, or you’re concerned about negative effects. Here is what you should know about Aleve vs. Advil and which pain reliever you should choose.

Are Aleve and Ibuprofen the Same Thing?

Naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil) are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and they work in the same way – by blocking COX-2 enzymes and COX-1 enzymes. However, they have different onset times and durations. Naproxen (Aleve) is a long-acting drug, meaning it takes longer to start relieving your pain, but it lasts longer too. Ibuprofen (Advil) is short-acting, so it starts working more quickly but needs to be taken more frequently.

Which Is More Effective at Relieving Pain?

Since naproxen and ibuprofen work in the same way, they are generally equally effective for relieving pain. However, the type of pain you’re experiencing may help you decide which to take.

On average, Aleve lasts eight to twelve hours, while Advil lasts just four to six hours. That means that if you have chronic, long-lasting pain, Aleve is probably a more effective option for you. Advil is better for short-term pain, and it’s also considered safer for children.

Prescription Strength vs. Over the Counter

You may have heard about prescription-strength versions of Aleve and Advil. Doctors may prescribe you a higher dose of either of these medications if you have severe pain. There are also a variety of other NSAIDs that are only available by prescription, such as meloxicam, diclofenac, and indomethacin.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Aleve and Advil?

While COX-2 enzymes are related to pain and inflammation in the body, COX-1 is involved with the lining of your stomach. This means both Aleve and Advil can cause gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Aleve poses a slightly greater risk of gastrointestinal issues, so if you are concerned about this side effect, you may want to choose Advil, or a different type of pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Additionally, these medications can increase the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. If you have a history of cardiovascular issues, talk to your doctor before using an NSAID.

Some other potential side effects include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney or liver problems
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Leg swelling
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Rash, throat swelling, and other allergic reactions

Do NSAIDs Interact with Anything?

You should watch out for interactions with any drugs you’re taking. There are some substances that interact with NSAIDs. These include blood thinners such as warfarin or aspirin, as well as substances such as tobacco and alcohol. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the drugs you’re taking, including over-the-counter pain relievers like Aleve and Advil.

Can You Take Naproxen and Ibuprofen Together?

NSAIDs also interact with each other. If you are taking Aleve (naproxen), do not take Advil (ibuprofen) at the same time, and vice versa.

How Many Advil or Aleve Should I Take?

The usual dosage for Advil is one tablet every four to six hours. You can increase the dosage to two tablets if one is not effective, but make sure you don’t exceed six tablets in 24 hours. If you’re taking Aleve, the dosage is one tablet every eight to twelve hours. You can take a second Aleve in the first hour if the first pill doesn’t work, but do not exceed three in 24 hours.

Note that you should not take Aleve for longer than ten days if you’re treating pain, and no longer than three days for a fever. Always take the lowest effective dose, and do not exceed the maximum dosage. Serious adverse health effects could result.

Which Is Better – Aleve or Ibuprofen?

If you’re still wondering whether to take Aleve or ibuprofen, remember that Aleve is a long-acting drug, while ibuprofen is short-acting. Aleve will last longer and is more effective for chronic pain, but it also poses a greater risk for gastrointestinal issues. Ibuprofen needs to be taken more frequently but it is generally safer, especially for children.

If you’ve been prescribed either of these medications, save with our drug price lookup tool. Find the lowest price on pain relievers, or search for discounts on any prescriptions you take.

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