Some people don’t think of alcohol as a drug and are surprised to find out that it has interactions with a lot of other drugs. Some of these other drugs are common and widely available. One such medicine that people wonder about is naproxen. Naproxen is an over-the-counter pain reliever that is available without a prescription. It is commonly found under the brand names Aleve, Naprosyn, and Flanax.
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Can You Drink Alcohol While on Naproxen?
It is not recommended to drink alcohol while on naproxen. Naproxen is in a class of pain relievers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen and aspirin.
One of the most dangerous side effects of NSAIDs like naproxen is that they can increase bleeding risk. Doctors aren’t quite sure how they increase bleeding risk, but it is a side effect that has shown up in multiple large studies. Alcohol can also increase bleeding risk, especially among people who have struggled with alcohol use for a long time.
Increased Risk of Bleeding
Alcohol also suppresses the body’s ability to make blood cells, especially platelets, which are essential for clotting. When a person gets a cut, platelets are activated and help stop the bleeding. However, when the person has been drinking alcohol for a long time, the body has trouble making new platelets. If a person is injured and the body can’t stop the bleeding, they may continue to bleed. This situation can be very dangerous, especially if the bleeding is on the inside of the body.
Doctors think that alcohol and NSAIDs like naproxen can increase the risk of bleeding even more when used together than when they are used separately. They suspect that alcohol and NSAIDs like naproxen have an additive risk. When a person has taken an NSAID and drinks alcohol, they are likely to bleed more, and for longer, than if they had not consumed alcohol.
Other Side Effects & Risks
Both alcohol and NSAIDs like naproxen have side effects that put people at increased risk of bleeding. So, not only do they both make it more likely for a person to bleed when they’re injured, but they also put the body at risk of damage in the first place. This damage is often not on the outside of the body. The most common kind of damage happens inside the body.
One of the most common side effects is gastritis. Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. It can be caused both by alcohol and by NSAIDs like naproxen. Therefore, if someone uses alcohol and NSAIDs together, they are a higher risk of getting gastritis than if they used them separately.
Usually, gastritis is uncomfortable. A person may feel like throwing up, or like there is a pain in the stomach that will not go away. Sometimes a person may have no symptoms at all, but that does not mean that a person can stop worrying about damage to the stomach from alcohol and naproxen, though.
Other serious problems that can arise from gastritis include:
- Ulcers in the stomach and intestines
- Permanent damage to the stomach lining
- Low blood iron, which means blood cells are not able to carry oxygen as well to the rest of the body
- Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to permanent nerve damage and mental changes
- Growths in the stomach which may be cancerous in some cases
The best way to avoid gastritis and bleeding from alcohol and naproxen is not to use them together.
Key Points: Alcohol and Naproxen
Important points to remember about alcohol and naproxen include:
- It is not a good idea to drink alcohol while taking NSAIDs like naproxen
- Both alcohol and naproxen increase the risk of bleeding, especially inside the body
- Alcohol and naproxen also both increase the risk of a condition called gastritis
- Gastritis can be very uncomfortable and can also lead to serious health problems
- Avoid using alcohol and naproxen together