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Ibuprofen vs. Naproxen: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 28, 2023
Ibuprofen and naproxen are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); however, their dosing frequencies and durations differ.

Key Differences

Ibuprofen is a commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that helps reduce inflammation, pain, and fever. Naproxen, also an NSAID, performs similar functions but typically lasts longer in its effects.
Ibuprofen is often taken every 4-6 hours, whereas naproxen is usually dosed every 8-12 hours due to its longer duration of action. While both ibuprofen and naproxen can be purchased over the counter, they also come in prescription strengths for more severe conditions.
It's essential to understand that, though they both alleviate pain and inflammation, they might have different side effects and drug interactions.
Always consult with a medical professional before choosing between ibuprofen and naproxen, as one might be more appropriate based on the individual's health profile.

Comparison Chart


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Typical Dosing Interval

Every 4-6 hours.
Every 8-12 hours.




Available in non-prescription strengths.
Also available over the counter.


Pain, inflammation, and fever reduction.
Pain, inflammation, and fever reduction.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen Definitions


An NSAID for pain relief.
She took ibuprofen for her headache.


Also effective for fever reduction.
When the fever persisted, he took naproxen.


Commonly used for fever reduction.
The child's fever dropped after taking ibuprofen.


Used to decrease inflammation.
The doctor suggested naproxen for her swollen joint.


Taken every 4-6 hours typically.
The bottle recommended taking ibuprofen every 6 hours as needed.


Can be purchased without prescription.
She got naproxen over the counter for her menstrual cramps.


Medication to reduce inflammation.
After spraining his ankle, he used ibuprofen to decrease swelling.


An NSAID for alleviating pain.
He chose naproxen for his back pain.


Available over the counter.
I purchased ibuprofen from the local pharmacy without a prescription.


Typically dosed every 8-12 hours.
The label said to take naproxen every 12 hours.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, C13H18O2, commonly used for its analgesic and antipyretic properties.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, C14H14O3, used to treat fever and pain.


Is naproxen longer-acting than ibuprofen?

Yes, naproxen usually lasts longer, often taken every 8-12 hours.

Are there side effects to consider?

Both drugs can have side effects, including gastrointestinal issues, and it's crucial to consult with a doctor before use.

Can they be taken with alcohol?

It's advisable to avoid alcohol when taking either ibuprofen or naproxen as it can increase the risk of stomach issues.

Is one more effective than the other?

Efficacy can be individual; what works for one person might not work as effectively for another.

Can I take ibuprofen and naproxen together?

It's generally not recommended to mix NSAIDs; consult a doctor for guidance.

Which one is better for chronic pain?

Both can be effective, but naproxen might be preferred due to its longer duration. Consult a doctor for individual cases.

Do they affect kidney function?

Prolonged use or high doses of NSAIDs can impact kidney function; regular monitoring is advised.

Can they cause allergic reactions?

Allergic reactions are possible. Discontinue use and seek medical attention if signs of an allergy appear.

How often should I take ibuprofen?

Typically, ibuprofen is taken every 4-6 hours, but always follow a doctor's advice.

Can I buy both drugs without a prescription?

Both ibuprofen and naproxen have over-the-counter versions, but also come in prescription strengths.

What's the risk of overdose?

Overdose can be harmful and even fatal. Always follow dosing recommendations and seek emergency care if an overdose is suspected.

Do they interact with other medications?

Yes, both can interact with various drugs. Always inform the doctor about other medications you're taking.

What are ibuprofen and naproxen used for?

Both are NSAIDs used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever.

Are there alternatives to ibuprofen and naproxen?

There are other NSAIDs and pain relievers available, but it's best to discuss alternatives with a doctor.

How do I store ibuprofen and naproxen?

Both should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Who should avoid taking these NSAIDs?

Individuals with certain conditions, like ulcers or specific heart conditions, should be cautious. Always consult a doctor.

Are they safe for long-term use?

Chronic use can lead to potential side effects; it's essential to have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.

Are they safe for children?

Both have pediatric dosages, but always consult a pediatrician before giving any medication to children.

Can pregnant women take these drugs?

It's essential to consult with an obstetrician before taking any medication during pregnancy.

Can seniors take ibuprofen and naproxen?

They can, but older adults might be at higher risk for certain side effects. It's important to consult with a doctor.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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