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Aleve Makes Her Drowsy

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aleve or Advil or meloxicam can sometimes cause drowsiness, dizziness or confusion.

Like other medicines, over-the-counter medications like naproxen or ibuprofen cause off-target (side) effects as well as on-target effects such as pain relief. However, you might have trouble tracking down the side effects of an OTC pill like naproxen. One reader wonders whether she is reacting to Aleve.

Is Drowsiness a Side Effect of Aleve?

Q. Can Aleve sometimes cause drowsiness? I only take one but later I find myself dozing off. Is there a hidden ingredient that causes this? Am I the only one who experiences this problem?

A. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as OTC ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve) or prescription products like diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), indomethacin (Indocin) and meloxicam (Mobic) can sometimes cause drowsiness, dizziness or confusion. This is not considered a common reaction, but it is not unknown.

You are not the only one who gets sleepy or spacey on medications like Advil or Aleve. A nurse who wrote to us several years ago reported that ibuprofen made her mentally foggy. She feared early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but found that stopping the NSAID improved her mental status.

Other Pain Relief Options:

We have prepared an online resource as a Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. When you read it, you will find a discussion of the pros and cons of medicines like prednisone and NSAIDs as well as a wide variety of non-drug approaches for easing joint pain.

Revised 9/18/17

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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