Author: Alex Thompson

Ibuprofen and alcohol: Is it safe to mix OTC painkillers with alcohol?

Painkillers and Alcohol

If you’re taking medication and you don’t know how it reacts to alcohol, don’t consume alcohol. In short, alcohol and pain medication are a deadly combination, so it’s best not to mix them. Acetaminophen alone can cause toxic damage to the liver, which is called acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity. This toxicity is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. It is generally safe to take ibuprofen when following the instructions on the packaging and a doctor’s orders. People can also use different types of pain reliever or alternative pain relief methods.

Painkillers and Alcohol

However, other pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin, can also interact with alcohol to cause adverse side effects. The National Kidney Foundation say that regular heavy drinking doubles the risk of a person developing chronic kidney disease. Using ibuprofen and alcohol together can greatly increase your risk of kidney problems. One study of 1,224 participants showed that regular use of ibuprofen raised the risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding in people who consumed alcohol.

A doctor may prescribe opioids, such as oxycodone, for pain relief. Depending on the type of opioid, they can control pain for up to 12 hours, as they are a time-release drug. Rather than releasing all at the same time, the medication’s effects continue to release over an extended period.

Reducing the risk of liver damage

Some herbal medicines and natural supplements can also interact with alcohol and cause side effects. Drinking alcohol only in moderation can prevent unwanted side effects. According to the CDC, moderate drinking means a maximum of one drink for women and two drinks for men per day. People are also often likely to take more medications that could interact with alcohol as they get older. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs affect kidney function because they stop the production of an enzyme in the kidneys called cyclooxygenase (COX). By limiting the production of COX, ibuprofen lowers inflammation and pain.

Painkillers and Alcohol

People who drank alcohol but only used ibuprofen occasionally did not have this increased risk. When you have pain, you may need to reach only as far as your medicine cabinet for a pill. OTC drugs such as ibuprofen may be available without a prescription, but they’re still strong medications. They come with the risk of harmful side effects, especially if you don’t take them correctly.

What pain reliever can I take with alcohol?

Therefore, it is important to read the labels on all medications before taking them to avoid exceeding the safe amount of ibuprofen. If a person combines opioids and alcohol, the effects of each can become stronger than they would be alone, which can have dangerous side effects. The most serious potential side effect is depressed breathing, which can result in death. If someone has mixed alcohol and opioids and appears to be at risk of complications, a person should call emergency services. If a person takes alcohol in combination with opioid medications, their breathing rate may become so depressed that their brain does not receive enough oxygen.

  1. Drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking paracetamol or ibuprofen is usually safe.
  2. Treatment for alcohol and substance addiction may vary between people, facilities, and programs.
  3. If you have asthma, ibuprofen can make your asthma symptoms worse.
  4. Popular alternatives to acetaminophen include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

However, the combination can irritate the stomach and intestine lining. A person taking ibuprofen while drinking heavily may experience serious side effects. All are signs of an alcohol-related injury or a potentially dangerous drug-drug interaction.

How alcohol affects the body

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report that older adults have a greater risk of complications relating to mixing medication and alcohol. The risk is higher because a person’s body becomes less able to break down alcohol with age. Taking ibuprofen from time to time while drinking in moderation may be safe for you. But before you decide to combine alcohol with ibuprofen, think of your health and understand your risk of problems. If you’re still concerned or unsure about drinking while taking ibuprofen, talk to your doctor.

Can I take ibuprofen with alcohol?

Together, these two drugs raise your risk of not paying attention while driving, slowed reaction times, and falling asleep. If you drink while taking ibuprofen, you definitely should not drive. A person can speak with a doctor about keeping a rescue medication called naloxone (Narcan) to take in case of an overdose of opioids. This medication can block the effects of opioids, which may relieve some of the symptoms of overdose. We also look at treatment for a person who has taken both alcohol and opioids, treatment options for alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder, and how to find these treatment options.

That means you’ll want to think twice before you take ibuprofen with a glass of wine or a cocktail. When a person drinks alcohol, their bloodstream quickly distributes it to the brain, liver, kidneys, and lungs. It takes, on average, 1 hour for the body to break down one unit of alcohol. This can depend on a person’s age, weight, gender, and other factors. Acetaminophen (better known under by the brand name Tylenol), for example, is well-known for its potential to cause liver damage.

Individually, both alcohol and ibuprofen can cause drowsiness. Combining the two may make this drowsiness worse, which can lead to excessive sleepiness or an inability to function normally. If you have asthma, ibuprofen can make your asthma symptoms worse. High doses or long-term use of ibuprofen may also lead to kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke. Drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking aspirin is usually safe. Excessive consumption of either, or both, can cause potentially severe, and even fatal, side effects.

This can also be the case when people who drink alcohol regularly take too much of this medication. If a person takes opioids and alcohol together, they may experience severe and dangerous consequences. A 2017 study found that taking even one tablet of the opioid oxycodone with a modest amount of alcohol can increase the risk of respiratory depression. This causes breathing to become extremely shallow or stop altogether.

Prescription-only painkillers

National Library of Medicine, taking acetaminophen can be dangerous for people who regularly drink alcohol. Mixing the two further increases the risk of ulcers and bleeding. The likelihood of experiencing side effects is particularly high with long-term use of ibuprofen, or regular, heavy alcohol use.