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Advil and Aleve - What's the Difference?

Distinguishing Between Advil and Aleve

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Updated April 07, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Advil and Aleve are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat arthritis. Though they are different drugs, they fall within the same drug class. What other similarities and differences exist between Advil and Aleve?

Similarities Between Advil and Aleve

Advil and Aleve are sold over-the-counter in pharmacies (i.e., they don't require a prescription). They are used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Advil and Aleve temporarily relieve minor aches and pains that occur with headache, toothache, backache, menstrual cramps, the common cold, muscular aches and minor arthritis pain.

Because Advil and Aleve are in the same drug class, the potential side effects and adverse reactions are similar.

Differences Between Advil and Aleve

The active ingredient in Advil is ibuprofen. Each Advil tablet contains 200 mg of ibuprofen. Aleve tablets contain 220 mg naproxen sodium.

There are also differences in dosing. For Advil: Adults and children 12 years old and over should take one tablet every 4 to 6 hours while symptoms persist. If one is not effective, two tablets can be taken together, but you should not exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours unless directed by a doctor. For Aleve: Take one Aleve every 8 to 12 hours while symptoms last. For the first dose, you can take 2 Aleve within the first hour. You should not exceed 2 Aleve in any 8 to 12-hour period and should not exceed 3 Aleve in any 24-hour period. Essentially, the effects of Advil last for 4 to 8 hours while Aleve lasts for 8 to 12 hours.

Can You Take Advil and Aleve Together?

Taking Advil and Aleve together is not recommended. The risk of side effects and adverse events increases if both are taken together. You should stick to taking one or the other, and only as directed.

Sources:

Advil, The Every Pain Reliever. Accessed 1/27/10
http://advil.com

Aleve FAQs. Bayer HealthCare. Accessed 1/27/10
http://aleve.com/faqs.php

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