Can You Mix Alcohol and Aspirin?

People often have questions about possible interactions between alcohol and painkillers, for example, alcohol and aspirin. They wonder, can you mix alcohol and aspirin, acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers safely?

The following provides an overview of what you should know about alcohol and aspirin and combining alcohol with painkillers in general.

Alcohol and Aspirin | Can You Mix Alcohol and Aspirin?
First and foremost, it should be noted that this isn’t a discussion about taking alcohol and opioid painkillers. That is an entirely different discussion, and that combination of substances carries with it very different and severe side effects. Right now we’re discussing alcohol and aspirin and other over-the-counter painkillers.

It’s not uncommon to think about combining alcohol and aspirin or another similar over-the-counter drug, particularly if you get a headache from drinking and want to get rid of it. With that being said, just because medicine is available over-the-counter, it doesn’t mean it’s safe in all situations.

We will discuss the specific risks of alcohol and aspirin, but first other over-the-counter pain medicines and what their risks can be.

  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is found in brand name medicines including Advil and Motrin. Ibuprofen and alcohol are both substances that can irritate your stomach, so if you pair this medicine with alcohol, it can lead to mild stomach discomfort up to upper GI bleeding. That’s at higher doses in most cases, however, so drinking a bit of alcohol combined with a normal dose of ibuprofen isn’t usually going to be problematic. It can be problematic, however, if you drink large amounts and take ibuprofen, take more ibuprofen than you should, or you mix the two regularly.
  • Naproxen: Naproxen is in Aleve, and it has a risk of stomach bleeding when it’s taken with alcohol. In moderate amounts, it may be okay, but it’s best to speak with your doctor.
  • Acetaminophen: Of the over-the-counter medicines mentioned on this list, acetaminophen is one of the most harmful when paired with alcohol. If you drink regularly or drink a lot at once and take acetaminophen, you may have liver complications as a result. This risk is amplified if you regularly combine acetaminophen and alcohol, and along with liver problems, it can also contribute to kidney disease.
So, can you mix alcohol and aspirin? There is research showing that if you regularly mix high doses of alcohol and aspirin your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding is higher than other people. At the same time, many physicians and researchers believe that even if you take low-dose aspirin and mix it with alcohol, drinking more than three drinks a day, your risks of GI bleeding can also be higher.

In general mixing of alcohol and aspirin is not recommended.

Alcohol and aspirin are a particularly relevant conversation when it comes to alcohol and over-the-counter pain medicines because a lot of people take it daily. People may be instructed by their doctor to follow a daily aspirin regimen if they’re considered high risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Yet, when they take aspirin daily their risk of internal bleeding can be higher, and this is amplified when you mix alcohol and aspirin.

Occasionally mixing aspirin and alcohol might not necessarily be as dangerous, but again, regular use of the two together can lead to not only internal bleeding but also kidney failure or stroke.

The reason aspirin is used in people at a high risk of heart attack and stroke is because it keeps blood from clotting, but if you’re taking too much or combining alcohol and aspirin, it can cause internal bleeding.

There are some important things for people to know when they’re wondering about alcohol and aspirin. The first is that you should always speak with your doctor, whether you’re on an aspirin regimen or you just take it occasionally.

Also, if you’re someone at a high risk for a heart attack or stroke, you should be fully honest with your physician about your use of alcohol, because an aspirin regimen might not be the best option for you.

If you are a heavy drinker and you’re going to be regularly combining alcohol and aspirin, you are at a high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Also, in addition to the risks of alcohol and aspirin, there’s no surefire way to guarantee that it’s ever safe to mix alcohol with any pain reliever. If you drink more than three drinks a day and also take any pain reliever, it can be risky, and it should be discussed with your doctor.

Something else that’s notable with aspirin and alcohol and aspirin, in general, is that it’s used less commonly than other options such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen because of potential side effects.

Can you mix alcohol and aspirin? It’s not likely recommended although you should always speak with your physician first and foremost.

Can You Mix Alcohol and Aspirin?
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