Alcohol and Tylenol are two substances that are commonly used, but what happens if you use them together? People frequently wonder can you mix alcohol and Tylenol and the short answer is no, you shouldn’t, but what else should you know? Why can it be harmful or even deadly to mix alcohol and Tylenol? Below is an overview of what Tylenol is, how it works, and why mixing it with alcohol can be so harmful.
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What is Tylenol?
Tylenol is a brand name over-the-counter pain and fever reducer, and the generic name for it is acetaminophen. It’s one of the most commonly used pain medicines in the world, and it can treat everything from headaches to arthritis. Acetaminophen isn’t just the active ingredient in Tylenol. It’s used in many combination drugs that are available as prescriptions and over-the-counter.
Some of the medicines that contain acetaminophen include Theraflu and Sudafed, which are used to treat colds and the flu. Prescription drugs with acetaminophen include hydrocodone among others. When acetaminophen is included in prescription pain relievers, it’s usually combined with another narcotic pain medicine.
Acetaminophen on its own is classified as a non-opioid analgesic, and it blocks an enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which create pain and inflammation. It’s different from NSAIDs like aspirin because it doesn’t eliminate swelling and inflammation. Acetaminophen can also be used for the treatment of migraines, but it’s recommended that it be combined with aspirin and caffeine to do so.
There are many different forms of Tylenol on the market including Tylenol Children’s, Tylenol Extra Strength, Tylenol Cold and Flu, Tylenol Allergy, and Tylenol PM, among others.
Despite how widely used Tylenol is, and the fact that it’s considered relatively safe, there is the potential to overdose on acetaminophen. People who take more than the maximum dosage of Tylenol, which is usually 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams in a day, may experience very severe side effects including liver damage or death.
For the most part, acetaminophen overdoses are accidental, and people simply don’t realize how much they’re taking, and how severe the side effects can be.
Can You Mix Alcohol and Tylenol?
To put it simply, if you’re asking “can you mix alcohol and Tylenol,” the answer is no.
The standard guideline is that if you’re taking acetaminophen, you have no more than three drinks in a day, but many physicians and pharmacists will recommend avoiding alcohol altogether. This is because the risks are so high, and not everyone is going to understand what is meant by moderate drinking, or even three drinks in a day.
For example, a standard serving size of alcohol tends to be much smaller than what most people would think. With wine as an example, it’s only five ounces. It’s very easy to go over what’s meant as moderate drinking and put yourself at risk as a result.
The Risks of Mixing the Two Substances
There are enzymes found in your liver responsible for breaking down drugs that you take including Tylenol. If you drink, it can make it more difficult for your liver to break down and process the Tylenol. When this happens, you’re at risk for severe liver damage, and this risk goes up as you take more Tylenol or drink more alcohol.
When your body uses acetaminophen for pain or fever relief, it’s converted into a substance that’s toxic, but your liver removes that harmful substance. If you’re combining alcohol and Tylenol, your body is making more of the toxic substance, and it’s tougher for your body to get rid of it.
When there is too much of this severe substance, it starts to attack your liver and cause damage. When you experience liver damage, it can reduce the functionality of this vital organ, and it can also lead to pressure in the brain, and abnormal bleeding or swelling.
Signs of Liver Damages
Symptoms of liver damage can include yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, and sweating.
Liver damage from the combination of alcohol and Tylenol is called acute liver damage, and this condition can occur very quickly. For many people, it’s possible to recover from liver damage resulting from mixing alcohol and Tylenol, but for some people, the damage can be pervasive or can lead to death.
With alcohol and Tylenol, some people are at a higher risk for liver damage than others. For example, people with existing liver damage should not use alcohol or Tylenol. Also binge drinkers or heavy drinkers should avoid Tylenol.
When it comes to alcohol and Tylenol, you should never take more than 3,000 mg of acetaminophen in a day, and you shouldn’t take it for longer than ten days in a row. You should never drink more than three alcoholic beverages in a day, and you should always make sure you’re not combining Tylenol with any other medicine that contains acetaminophen.
With the combination of alcohol and Tylenol, the biggest risk tends to be to the liver, but this combination can also increase the risk of kidney disease.