Never Mix Ibuprofen And Naproxen Sodium. Here's Why

Maybe you have a terrible headache, and you are wondering what you can do to find relief. The thought may cross your mind that taking two different painkillers might be better than one. However, before mixing medications, it is important to understand if the ones you want to take are safe to take together. Many medications interact with each other and can cause harmful side effects.

According to MedlinePlus, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the three most common types of over-the-counter pain medications. Two common over-the-counter NSAIDs are ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. You probably know ibuprofen through brand names such as Advil or Motrin. Walmart sells it under the Equate brand, and Target sells it under their Up & Up label.

Naproxen sodium is more commonly known under the names Aleve and Naprosyn. Like Ibuprofen, generic versions exist, and the Equate and Up & Up brands also carry this medication. Because so many different brands carry the same medication, it is important to read the labels of your medications, so you do not mix two of the same type by accident.

And while ibuprofen and naproxen sodium sound like two entirely different medications, remember they both belong to the group of medications known as NSAIDs. Combining them can result in serious side effects. These side effects are related to how NSAIDs work in your body.

How NSAIDs work and why combining them is risky

Stat Pearls, updated May of 2022, provides an overview article of NSAIDs. NSAIDs lower fevers and decrease pain and inflammation. They do this by blocking an enzyme in your body called cyclooxygenase (COX). When these COX enzymes are blocked, substances that cause pain, fever, and inflammation in your body are also blocked, providing relief. However, COX enzymes are also involved in blood clotting and in the maintenance of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract lining. Unfortunately, most NSAIDs don't differentiate between the different COX enzymes and block all their actions.

Best Life explains if you combine ibuprofen and naproxen, it can result in bleeding. Taking these two together could result in a range of symptoms, from nausea to severe bleeding, especially in your gastrointestinal tract. You may vomit blood or notice it in your stool. These side effects are because NSAIDs affect both blood clotting and the maintenance of your GI tract lining. In extreme cases, the actions of these two drugs together could also severely harm your kidneys, resulting in blood in your urine.

So, if you are experiencing pain or a fever and wondering if you can combine over-the-counter medications, check in with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. They can advise you on what combinations of medications are safe to take and help you find relief. This way, your ailment can be treated without causing serious side effects.