Mixing Alcohol and Ibuprofen

There are many medicines available over-the-counter and by prescription that people are warned not to mix with alcohol. When you mix certain medicines with alcohol, the side effects can range from mild to severe, and in some cases may result in death.

So what about the commonly used over-the-counter pain reliever ibuprofen? What should you know about possible side effects of alcohol and ibuprofen? Can you mix ibuprofen and alcohol?

Alcohol and Ibuprofen | Can You Mix Ibuprofen and Alcohol?
Before looking specifically at alcohol and ibuprofen, what is this medicine? Ibuprofen is a pain reliever that’s used for many common everyday reasons, such as relieving pain from arthritis and also lowering fevers.

It’s classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or an NSAID, and it is known to have an antiplatelet effect. This means it protects people who take it from blood clots, although it’s not as effective as aspirin as doing so.

There are many brand name versions of ibuprofen including Advil, Motrin, and Midol.

When you take an NSAID it’s not narcotic, so it’s not going to cause you to think or behave differently. Instead, it works by blocking the production of something called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances released by your body to respond to an injury or illness. They can lead to inflammation, and then the symptoms you experience are pain and swelling.

The ability of ibuprofen to relieve pain can start pretty quickly after taking it, but the anti-inflammation abilities may take longer. You can find ibuprofen in a number of forms including as tablets, gels, and sprays.

Even though it’s available over-the-counter, there are some warnings that come with the use of ibuprofen. For example, it’s not advised for use in people with severe heart failure, people who have or have had a peptic ulcer and anyone with a sensitivity to NSAIDs. The FDA also warns people to seek medical attention right away if they have certain symptoms after taking ibuprofen such as breathing problems, chest pain, or slurred speech.

People with asthma, kidney or liver problems should use it with caution as well.

Even without the combination of alcohol and ibuprofen, some of the common side effects include nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Less common side effects could include fluid retention, bloating, hypertension, inflammation of the stomach, dizziness, and digestive ulcers.

There are also quite a few drugs that have the potential to interact with ibuprofen including medicines for high blood pressure, aspirin, and lithium, among others.

So what about alcohol and ibuprofen? Can you mix ibuprofen and alcohol or is it dangerous?

There are definite risks of taking alcohol and ibuprofen at the same time, so if you’re tempted to reach for it to get rid of a headache from drinking, you should think again. If you drink only a small amount of alcohol with ibuprofen, it may not be harmful, but there are still potential risks, and the more you drink, the higher the risks are.

Some of the risks of alcohol and ibuprofen include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: When you combine alcohol and ibuprofen on a regular basis it raises your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Some signs of stomach issues that could be related to alcohol and ibuprofen include an ongoing upset stomach, black tarry stools, and blood in your vomit.
  • Kidney damage: Long-term use of alcohol and ibuprofen can damage kidneys. Signs of problems with your kidneys that could be related to alcohol and ibuprofen include feeling tired, swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles, and shortness of breath.
  • Lack of alertness: Another possible side effect of alcohol and ibuprofen used together is a lack of alertness. You may feel more relaxed if you combine the two but this can lead to drowsiness and raise your risk of being in an accident.
  • Less effective medication:  Taking certain medications with alcohol can make them less effective and may even exacerbate side effects.

Can you mix alcohol and ibuprofen?

In general, you can if you only drink a small amount of alcohol, but you should be very careful and avoid it if you can. In fact, you should avoid taking any pain reliever while you’re drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can cause irritation to your intestinal tract and stomach, and taking a NSAID like ibuprofen can make that worse.

Also, with long-term use of alcohol and ibuprofen, you may experience a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems.

The risk of side effects from alcohol and ibuprofen such as stomach bleeding is more likely to occur in people who are older than 60, who have had stomach bleeding in the past, or who take a high dose of ibuprofen.

You should always speak with your doctor about alcohol and ibuprofen, or before drinking with any medicine, over-the-counter or otherwise. If you feel like you’re unable to stop drinking alcohol to the point where you can’t take ibuprofen, you may need to discuss an addiction treatment program with your healthcare provider.

Mixing Alcohol and Ibuprofen
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