How to protect your stomach when taking Naproxen
Naproxen is a painkiller that belongs to a group of medicines known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is taken to relieve pain and inflammation associated with a wide range of problems, from injuries to arthritis. It is renowned for providing fast-acting and long lasting pain relief.
Before you buy naproxen tablets, there are some things that you should know regarding the impact that Naproxen can have on your stomach, particularly in individuals that are using Naproxen on a long term basis.
In this guide, we will be looking at how naproxen affects the stomach and how you can look after your stomach while taking this medicine.
What does naproxen do to the stomach?
Research has shown that chronic use of NSAIDs like naproxen can cause peptic ulcer disease, which is a condition that causes painful ulcers to develop in your stomach lining or small intestine.
NSAIDs like naproxen can cause stomach ulcers by inhibiting the stomach’s natural ability to protect itself from gastric acids. When the stomach is exposed to excessive acid, it can result in ulcers.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while taking naproxen, you may have developed an ulcer or inflammation in your gut or stomach:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
For this reason, patients should not take naproxen in the long term unless advised to do so by their doctor.
If you have any pre-existing stomach problems, or have ever suffered from ulcers, you should make sure your doctor is aware of this before you start to take naproxen or any other NSAID.
How do I protect my stomach when taking naproxen?
If your doctor prescribes you naproxen to take for a long time, or if you are at an increased risk of getting a stomach ulcer, you may also be prescribed a medicine to protect your stomach.
Often, a medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) is prescribed alongside naproxen. Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole are effective at protecting the stomach when taking an NSAID like naproxen. They work to inhibit the production of stomach acid, which significantly reduces the risk of stomach ulcers and other gastric problems.
Proton pump inhibitors are commonly prescribed to treat acid reflux, stomach ulcers and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
It is also important that you take naproxen with food or just after eating. This will help to protect your stomach and avoid pain.
When should I take omeprazole with naproxen?
Your doctor will prescribe omeprazole alongside an NSAID like naproxen if you need to take it for a long time. If you are at an increased risk of getting stomach ulcers, omeprazole will also be prescribed for you to take while taking naproxen.
NICE prescribing guidelines states that individuals using NSAID's that are at a high risk of Gastrointestinal adverse events should also be prescribed a proton pump inhibitor.
Taking omeprazole at the same time as naproxen will reduce the risk of you getting a stomach ulcer or suffering other stomach problems.
Can I take omeprazole with other NSAIDs?
If you are taking omeprazole to treat an existing stomach ulcer or heartburn, you are advised against taking aspirin or ibuprofen at the same time, as they can make these problems worse. However if you have been prescribed Omeprazole for the purpose of protecting your stomach from those NSAID's and others, it is fine to take both as prescribed.
If you have any doubts or questions, you should always ask your doctor before you start taking a new medicine.
Can I take other proton pump inhibitors with naproxen?
Other proton pump inhibitors can be prescribed to take alongside naproxen.
Esomeprazole is also a PPI that can be taken with naproxen to prevent stomach ulcers. This combination of medicine is often prescribed for chronic problems like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
The PPI lansoprazole can also be taken with naproxen for the same protection against ulcers in the stomach.
Pantoprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that can treat stomach ulcers. However, you should talk to your doctor before combining this PPI with naproxen, as taking them together may cause naproxen to be released in the body prematurely, making it less effective.
Should I take omeprazole before or after naproxen?
You should take Omeprazole before food and taking Naproxen. Taking Omeprazole before will ensure that it is fully absorbed by the body and can offer adequate protection for the stomach lining when Naproxen is taken and starts to be digested and absorbed by the stomach.
Omeprazole capsules can be taken with or without food but should be taken in the morning before your dose of Naproxen.
Can I take naproxen without omeprazole?
You may not need to take a proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole while using naproxen if you are only taking naproxen for a short time and have no existing stomach problems.
However, if you are taking naproxen to treat a chronic problem such as arthritis, you will need to take a PPI to reduce the long-term risk of stomach ulcers.
Which NSAIDs are best for your stomach?
Taken in high doses or in the long term, most NSAIDs can cause side effects that may damage the stomach or cause ulcers. However, whereas the maximum dose of naproxen is 660mg each day, up to 1,200mg of ibuprofen can be taken each day.
It is important to talk to your doctor if you have a chronic condition that may require long term use of an NSAID.
Some NSAIDs are also available as topical treatments, such as ibuprofen, which is contained as the active ingredient in certain gels.
Typically, Ibuprofen, paracetamol and Naproxen are the most commonly used painkillers that are used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Paracetamol, out of the three, is the safest and most widely used painkiller due to its low reported adverse effects.
You can find out more in our guide on the differences between naproxen, paracetamol, and ibuprofen.
Are there any side effects when using omeprazole and naproxen together?
Both omeprazole and naproxen can cause side effects, whether they are taken together or individually.
When omeprazole is taken at the same time as naproxen, it may affect the enteric coating of naproxen. This may make naproxen less effective than it should be due to the medicine being released in the body too soon.
You should follow your doctor’s dosage instructions to ensure that this risk is minimised.
Lear more about the side effects of Naproxen and Omeprazole:
Can I drink alcohol while using omeprazole and naproxen together?
Alcohol will not affect how either omeprazole or naproxen work. However, alcohol makes your stomach produce a higher level of acid than normal, which can irritate your stomach.
For this reason, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol while using this combination of medicines.
Our guide provides a thorough overview of the interaction between naproxen and alcohol.
How long does naproxen stay in your system?
Naproxen’s elimination half-life is between 12 and 17 hours. It will be eliminated from your system after around 93.5 hours, which is just over 3 days.