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Can naproxen cause GI bleeding?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology
Yes. Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) that can wear down the lining of the stomach causing an ulcer and/or bleeding. This tends to happen if the medication is taken in large amounts and/or long periods of time.

Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Midol Extended Relief, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Wal-Proxen) is a drug that is used to relieve pain and swelling (inflammation) in people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, gout and menstrual pain. It belongs to a class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs).

This group of NSAIDs, which also includes naproxen, can potentially increase the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding by causing ulcers in the lining of the stomach and intestines. It can happen at any time, without overt signs or symptoms, and can be fatal if not attended to quickly.

Risk factors for bleeding include:

• Long-term NSAID use
• Older age
• Poor health
• Consuming more than three alcoholic drinks a day
• Use of anticoagulants (blood thinners) and other NSAIDs
• History of peptic ulcer disease
• Bleeding disorders

Symptoms of GI bleeding include:
• Pain
• Heartburn
• Blood-streaked vomit or stool
• Black colored stool

If you are at risk for GI bleeding, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about alternative treatments for pain and inflammation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.