Ibuprofen is a medication for relieving pain, fever, and swelling (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID). The medication is sold over the counter under several brand names like Motrin, Midol, and Advil. But mixing ibuprofen and alcohol is a dangerous game.
While a prescription isn’t needed for over the counter drugs like ibuprofen, the drug is still strong with serious side effects when misused. This can include overdosing on anti-inflammatories or combining them with other medications or substances such as alcohol.
In this post, we will discuss the reasons why combining alcohol & ibuprofen is dangerous.
According to the NHS, it is safe to take pain relievers when drinking small amounts of alcohol. However, there are risks of experiencing mild to serious side effects from taking ibuprofen regularly alongside moderate amounts of alcohol (a drink for women and two drinks for men).
The chances of experiencing side effects are even higher with long-term ibuprofen use alongside alcohol use. Habitual ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen consumption alongside alcohol are potentially dangerous. To be safe, medication (including ibuprofen) shouldn’t be taken alongside alcohol.
Ibuprofen is a pain reducer. The medication also reduces inflammation. However, ibuprofen can irritate the stomach lining resulting in ulcers and bleeding. Alcohol does the same thing on its own.
When the two are mixed together, the risk of ulcers and bleeding is compounded. Ibuprofen can also alter blood clotting (make it harder or easier to clot/bleed). The medication can also be toxic to organs like the kidneys and liver.
Drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen can cause:
Ibuprofen is safest when taken for a short period. Doctors should offer other alternatives for safe long-term pain management. Individuals taking ibuprofen should stick to the recommended dosage.
It’s also recommendable to read medication labels carefully since ibuprofen is common in combination medication i.e., some headache medicines, cold medicines, and prescription pain relievers. Reading medication labels will prevent ibuprofen overdose or long-term use.
Also, ibuprofen shouldn’t be taken to relieve a hangover since alcohol is usually present in the system of a person with a hangover. The stomach also tends to be more vulnerable at this time, increasing the risks of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.
It also helps to drink in moderation. The CDC defines moderate drinking as a drink and two drinks for women and men, respectively. The CDC also defines what one drink means in regards to the type of alcohol and alcohol percentage per drink.
If you take ibuprofen and experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.
Individuals who consume alcohol on a daily basis and have problems quitting should seek medical attention.
According to the NIAAA, risks associated with mixing alcohol and medication increase with age. Older individuals have a harder time breaking down alcohol. They are also more likely to be on medication, which compounds the risks.
The absorption rate and efficiency of alcohol and medications in the bodies of older adults are also inhibited. This is due to metabolic slowdown, where an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) is at lower levels than in the stomachs of younger people.
Ageing also adapts chemicals in the brain and body, including those responsible for alertness and energy. Older people are more prone to feeling more sedated by certain medications which, when combined with alcohol, pose a variety of health risks.
Alcohol stays in the system for 1 to 3 hours. However, a urine test and breathalysers can detect alcohol taken 24 hours ago. A hair test can detect if you have taken alcohol in the past three months.
There are several factors that dictate how long alcohol will take in your system. For instance, individuals who are addicts eliminate alcohol faster from their bodies. The amount of time it takes for alcohol to leave your body will also increase as you drink more. A standard drink (12 ounces of a typical beer) will increase the blood alcohol level to 0.02 – 0.03.
A person’s body size will also dictate how long alcohol stays in their system. Ideally, you should allow at least a day before you take ibuprofen. If you have taken a lot of alcohol, allow more time (two days or more).
While taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and drinking alcohol can help reduce inflammation in the body, be careful of the dosage. Excessive consumption of both alcohol and NSAIDs (aspirin, indomethacin, mefenamic acid, and celecoxib) can result in bleeding of the stomach.
Taking Tylenol while drunk or hungover can also cause liver damage as its components restrict the body’s ability to process alcohol. While it’s safe to take low doses of naproxen, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen with small amounts of alcohol, it’s not advisable to do so give the long-term consequences of this turning into a habit.
In conclusion, pharmacists claim that in a ‘perfect world’, mixing over-the-counter painkillers with alcohol should be avoided. If you are taking any pain medications to relieve a hangover, you should look into your drinking habits instead.