Ibuprofen and naproxen also have serious side effects. Chronic use of both, including aspirin, may cause indigestion, gastric or duodenal ulcers, and fluid retention. In addition, ibuprofen use slightly increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Renal damage is also possible and significantly increases if the patient is dehydrated (as is often the case in an outdoor setting). Not surprisingly the risk of adverse effects increases substantially with dose and course. Note that while many athletes take ibuprofen or naproxen for general muscle soreness, neither drug has been shown to be effective. Remember that the GI side effects of both drugs increase if the drug is not taken with food and the renal effects increase if the patient or athlete is dehydrated.
Follow the following simple guidelines greatly reduces your chance of adverse effects:
- IF you must take one of these medications, take the lowest therapeutic dose for the shortest period of time.
- Make sure you are hydrated before taking any medication.
- Take ibuprofen or naproxen with food to decrease the risk of developing GI problems.
- Do not take ibuprofen or naproxen for muscle aches; instead, increase your water and electrolyte intake and rest.
- If you choose to carry and take acetaminophen, remember that it is used in numerous cold, flu, sinus, and sleep medications. Keep track and don't exceed 3 g/day; use less if possible.
- Do not drink alcohol if you are taking acetaminophen.
- Do not take acetaminophen if you are fasting or cannot keep food down due to nausea and vomiting.