Aleve Vs. Advil: What's The Difference?

If you pause anytime you open your medicine cabinet and have to choose between the appropriate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease menstrual cramps or muscle aches, you may need a refresher on the differences between Aleve and Advil.

Many of us have a basic understanding of what over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs can and cannot do. Both Aleve and Advil can be used for pain and fever relief, to quell a headache or relieve joint or muscle pain, per Verywell Health. What is not as well known is how the drugs interact with other medications, and their potential side effects.

Both Aleve and Advil are OTC drugs that can be purchased on a Target run, at the market, or at local pharmacies. Their availability may make it seem as if both medications are interchangeable — they even have the same number of syllables — but there are some differences that set them apart from one another. When deciding between Aleve and Advil, you need to consider how long you need pain relief and your current medications.

Aleve and Advil have some major differences

Aleve is an over-the-counter brand name of the NSAID naproxen and Advil, like Motrin, is a well-known brand of the drug ibuprofen. Both are prostaglandin inhibitors, which means the medication keeps inflammation from flaring up by blocking two enzymes — COX-2 and COX-1, according to ScriptSave WellRx.

Unlike ibuprofen, naproxen interacts with more drugs, and as a result, the risk for some side effects is a more likely occurrence (via Healthline). For this reason, people taking certain medications to lower their cholesterol or to treat depression may want to skip naproxen altogether. A safer bet is to talk with a medical provider or pharmacist about pain relief options to determine whether Advil or Aleve is a safer option for you (via Healthline).

Another really big difference between these two medications is what is referred to as "duration of action," according to Medical News Today. If you need several hours of pain relief, Aleve may be the best OTC medication for you since it's a long-acting drug. GoodRx explains naproxen can provide more hours of coverage compared to ibuprofen. "Naproxen stays active three to four times as long as ibuprofen," according to the site. However, this drug should not be used long-term due to risk for serious side effects (via Mayo Clinic).

So, remember long-acting Aleve is long-acting and interacts with more medications, whereas "Ibuprofen is short-acting and is better suited for the treatment of acute pain," per