It is a common myth that taking pain relievers is the best way to deal with a hangover. Using pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can do drinkers more harm than good. Will ibuprofen and alcohol kill you, though? While taking these substances together may not be fatal, there are still important risks drinkers need to know. We discuss those risks in this guide, so keep reading to learn more.
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What Is Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen (commonly known by its brand name, Advil) is an over-the-counter painkiller. It is part of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class. As its name suggests, it reduces inflammation throughout the body.
Inflammation is the primary cause of pain. When a drug like Advil blocks it, people feel relief. Doctors recommend ibuprofen-containing medications to people who experience headaches, muscle aches, and many other types of pain.
Advil and drugs like it can also help alleviate fever and treat cold and flu symptoms. However, though it is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug, it has potentially dangerous effects when combined with alcohol.
Can You Take Advil With Alcohol?
Yes, you can take Advil with alcohol if you consume three or fewer drinks. Consuming more than three drinks and taking ibuprofen-containing drugs can irritate the digestive system, stomach, and kidneys.
Risk Factors of Mixing Ibuprofen With Alcohol
It is not safe to combine more than three alcoholic drinks with ibuprofen. People who drink regularly or in excess may experience the following symptoms when using ibuprofen.
As we mentioned earlier, ibuprofen and alcohol are both stomach irritants. Alone, they each cause inflammation of the gut lining. Taking these substances together can intensify this symptom.
In extreme cases, stomach irritation can become so severe that it leads to gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. To identify this side effect, look out for signs like bloody vomit, black and foul-smelling stools, and severe stomachaches.
Another way taking ibuprofen and alcohol together can affect the stomach is by forming ulcers. People who take ibuprofen and drink more than three drinks per day are at a higher risk.
Stomach ulcers are also known as peptic ulcers. They are sores that develop on the stomach lining or small intestine. Symptoms include a burning sensation in the stomach, feeling full all the time, heartburn, and nausea.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It lowers activity in the brain and spinal cord, leading to drowsiness. Using large doses of ibuprofen is also known to cause drowsiness.
Drowsiness symptoms of each substance alone can intensify when someone takes alcohol and ibuprofen together.
The kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste from the bloodstream. Alcohol is commonly known for its ability to reduce kidney function. Though a lesser-known fact, ibuprofen also negatively affects the kidneys.
Ibuprofen blocks the COX pathway, which is involved in the inflammatory response. This effect is good for reducing pain. However, it also results in a narrowing of vessels that bring blood to the kidneys.
When combined, alcohol and ibuprofen have a detrimental impact on the kidneys. Signs someone may have kidney damage from alcohol and Advil use include drowsiness, swelling in the extremities, and shortness of breath.
Heart Attack and Stroke
Combining ibuprofen and alcohol may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. As with stomach ulcers, having more than three drinks per day can increase someone’s risk of this symptom.
Who Is Most at Risk of the Negative Interactions Between Ibuprofen and Alcohol?
People who consume more than three alcoholic beverages per day and use Advil are most at risk of the negative interactions between ibuprofen and alcohol. Other factors that may increase the potential for the above side effects include:
- Using high-dose ibuprofen drugs
- Binge drinking
- Having kidney or liver disease
People with cognitive difficulties may also have a higher risk. These individuals may not understand the potential consequences of combining the two substances. Additionally, they may not understand the right dose to use.
The Risk of Drinking Alcohol and Taking Ibuprofen in Older Adults
Another risk factor in taking ibuprofen and drinking alcohol is age. As mentioned above, kidney or liver disease and cognitive impairment may make someone more likely to take high doses of ibuprofen and drink.
The prevalence of kidney disease, liver disease, and cognitive impairment rises with age. At the same time, even older adults who do not have these conditions are at a higher risk. This happens for a few reasons.
Firstly, the body’s ability to break down alcohol declines with age. A healthy metabolism is crucial for effectively eliminating alcohol from the bloodstream. Metabolism is less effective in older adults, leading to higher amounts of alcohol to interact with ibuprofen.
Secondly, the brain becomes less alert with age. Older adults are naturally more drowsy than younger people. This can amplify the drowsiness alcohol and ibuprofen cause.
How Long After Taking Advil Can I Drink Alcohol?
After taking Advil, you can drink alcohol after 10 to 11 hours have passed. Ibuprofen has a half-life of around two hours, which means it takes that long to eliminate half of the drug from the body.
You should not drink alcohol until your system has eliminated the ibuprofen. It typically takes five half-lives to completely break down a substance, which is why you should not drink for at least 10 hours.
How Long After Drinking Alcohol Can You Take Ibuprofen?
- Older adults
- People with liver conditions
- People of Asian descent
You should generally wait at least five half-lives to take a substance after drinking. If you are in one of the above groups, consider waiting longer to avoid the negative consequences we discussed earlier.
Other Drug Interactions
Ibuprofen-containing drugs are not the only medications people cannot take with alcohol. After drinking alcohol, people must also avoid the following OTC and prescription drugs:
- Allergy, cold, and flu medications, such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Tylenol Cold and Flu
- Anxiety and epilepsy medications, such as Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax
- Arthritis medications, such as Celebrex
- ADHD medications, such as Adderall and Vyvanse
- Depression medications, such as Abilify, Effexor, Lexapro, and Zoloft
- Diabetes medications, such as Glucotrol and Orinase
- Heartburn medications, such as Zantac
- High blood pressure medications, such as Calan, Hytrin, and Norvasc
- High cholesterol medications, such as Crestor, Lipitor, and Vytorin
- Anti-infection medications, such as Flagyl and Tindamax
- Anti-seizure medications, such as Dilantin, Klonopin, and Topamax
- Sleep medications, such as prescriptions like Ambien or Unisom and herbal remedies like chamomile or valerian root
This list is not exhaustive. For a complete list of commonly used medications that interact with alcohol, click the link above. People can also talk to their doctor to learn more.
Which Pain Reliever Can You Take With Alcohol?
You cannot take any pain reliever with alcohol, whether it is a prescription or OTC medication. All pain relievers present similar risks when combined with alcohol, especially in people with liver or kidney problems.
Experts agree that drinking small amounts of alcohol with OTC pain relievers presents a lower risk of side effects. “Small amounts” means fewer than three drinks a day.
However, people with liver or kidney problems may still experience adverse symptoms. People with liver or kidney conditions should talk to their physician before combining one alcoholic beverage with painkillers.
Prescription painkillers are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol. Learn more about these dangers in this article on our blog. OTC pain relievers to avoid include Aleve (naproxen), Excedrin (aspirin), and Tylenol (acetaminophen).
Can I Drink Alcohol After Taking Tylenol 500mg Extra Strength?
Yes, you can drink alcohol after taking Tylenol 500mg Extra Strength. However, there are two conditions.
Firstly, people can only consume small amounts of alcohol (three drinks or fewer) when taking Tylenol 500mg. Secondly, people suffering from liver or kidney conditions should not drink any alcohol and take Tylenol 500mg.
Tylenol Extra Strength contains the active ingredient acetaminophen. Acetaminophen can cause interactions with alcohol, which may include stomach upset, stomach bleeding, stomach ulcers, and, in extreme cases, liver damage or increased heart rate.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
People with alcohol use disorders are at a higher risk of side effects from combining alcohol and painkillers. The best way to avoid these risks is to get treatment for alcohol addiction.
Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health offers treatment programmes for alcoholics. Patients who enrol in our program can access withdrawal management services. With these services, individuals can safely and comfortably detox from alcohol.
We also offer an inpatient treatment programme. People with AUDs live at our facility while receiving treatment services such as group counselling, individual sessions with licensed therapists, and therapeutic activities to promote self-care.
Will Ibuprofen and Alcohol Kill You?
No, ibuprofen and alcohol will not kill you, but taking these substances together presents the risk of dangerous side effects. If you have experienced these side effects due to an alcohol use disorder, Simcoe Rehab is here for you.
Are you sick of wondering, “Will ibuprofen and alcohol kill you?” If so, it may be time to get alcoholism treatment. Learn more about our alcohol addiction services, and contact us to get the help you need today.