It’s common to enjoy a drink now and then, and it’s also normal to take ibuprofen for a headache or pain. But what happens when you mix both?

Can Ibuprofen and Alcohol Kill You? - Close up of a woman opening packet of ibuprofen

There can be risks when you mix any medication, like ibuprofen, with alcohol. It’s important to understand that this can be dangerous. Plus, if you drink frequently or are currently living with alcohol addiction, adding painkillers into the mix can lead to even more serious problems.


What is Ibuprofen, and What Is It Used For?

Ibuprofen is a commonly used pain reliever. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and is sold over the counter, which means you can purchase it without a prescription from a healthcare professional.

Ibuprofen is very popular as it is easy to get, not addictive in a way that requires serious rehabilitation, and only a small percentage of people may experience bad side effects after taking them.

As a pain reliever, ibuprofen is commonly used to ease mild pain such as headache, toothache and period pains. People will use it when they have the flu to control a high temperature. It can also help with more muscular problems, easing inflammation and pain in joints and muscles that can be from long-term conditions or injuries due to activity.

Ibuprofen has these effects on your body because it alleviates pain chemical pathways by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). This is responsible for making prostaglandins, chemicals that cause inflammation, pain and swelling.

As stated above, side effects of ibuprofen can occur – happening in around 1 in 100 people. These side effects include vomiting, nausea, headaches, wind and indigestion. Combining ibuprofen and alcohol can increase these risks and lead to other health issues.


Can You Drink Alcohol and Take Ibuprofen?

 So, will ibuprofen and alcohol kill you? The answer is (most likely) no – not if you are taking a usual dose of the painkiller and drinking little. The problem when combining ibuprofen and alcohol is that they can work together to create worse effects. Both substances, taken excessively, will cause damage to your organs that could lead to long-term conditions.

Alcohol interferes with how drugs work inside your body and can worsen potential side effects. In some cases, it could lead to vomiting, nausea and dizziness. It can also make those who never have side effects from ibuprofen experience them.

Whilst taking a small amount of both is generally safe, you are still taking a risk and having either in large amounts makes the risk even higher. For this reason, it is best not to drink at all whilst taking ibuprofen, or any other pain reliever.


 Potential Interactions of Ibuprofen and Alcohol

 The ibuprofen and alcohol risks are plenty, capable of affecting many parts of your body.

Liver Damage and Complications

The liver is very important in removing waste from your body and cleaning your blood. Both alcohol and ibuprofen metabolise in the liver and are filtered out – excessive amounts of both lead to toxic hepatitis. This is an inflammation in your liver which can lead to permanent scarring and eventual liver failure. Both can also increase the risk of fatty liver disease.

Gastrointestinal Issues

 A large amount of ibuprofen alone will cause stomach irritation and lead to stomach ulcers. These ulcers mean that acid from the digestive tract can start eating away at your stomach, causing bleeding and creating holes in your stomach and intestines. Alcohol can make the GI bleeding worse and will lead to chronic stomach pain, heartburn and black, tarry stools.

Cardiovascular Risks

 Both alcohol and ibuprofen lead to increased risks of heart issues. This is because both substances will stress the heart as they thin the blood. To compensate, your heart has to work harder, leading to increased blood pressure. Sustained high blood pressure can ultimately lead you to have a heart attack or stroke – both of which can be fatal.

Can Ibuprofen and Alcohol Kill You? an image of a woman holding an ibuprofen pill with a glass of water.

Safe Ibuprofen Usage Guidelines

For safe ibuprofen usage, you should carefully read the package. It’s important only to take the dose recommended at a time and not repeat the dosage more than it says to.

If you have alcohol in your system, on average, it takes 25 hours to leave your body fully. Because of this, you should wait at least a day in between your last drink and taking ibuprofen to mitigate any increased risks.

Because of this, it might be better to find alternative methods of pain relief. You can use pain relief gels and creams on injuries instead, apply cold compresses or heat pads, and do stretch exercises. More holistic approaches, such as meditation and breathing exercises, can help relieve stress and anxiety – which could be contributing to the pain.

It’s important that if you are concerned about anything – mainly, can ibuprofen and alcohol kill you, then you should consult a healthcare professional.


Seeking Professional Help

When it comes to dealing with alcohol abuse and ibuprofen problems, you must seek out healthcare professionals such as your GP or local pharmacist. They will know you better and your medical history, able to provide you with personalised advice that should be more helpful.

You can help yourself by being mindful of potential warning signs of more serious issues. Symptoms that you may require professional help include headaches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and lack of coordination. 

As regular ibuprofen use will contribute to stomach issues, you should watch out for stomach cramps, blood in your vomit or stool and dizziness.

These symptoms, combined with excessive drinking, may point towards an alcohol addiction. Your GP may recommend going to a drug and alcohol rehab where you can gain access to addiction treatment that helps you achieve long-term recovery.

At Asana Lodge, a private drug and alcohol rehab, you will take part in a comprehensive addiction treatment programme. Detoxification will help you physically end your alcohol dependence. After this, you will attend various therapy sessions to help you deal with the psychological aspect of your addiction and hone coping skills to manage outside.

Even after you leave Asana Lodge, aftercare can help you stay on track and ensure your recovery is long-lasting.


Find Out More

 You probably came into this wondering – can ibuprofen and alcohol be fatal? The short answer is, yes.

Ibuprofen and alcohol interaction can be dangerous, and it is important to practise responsible use of both substances. If you’re struggling to gain control over your alcohol consumption and you need professional help, then we at Asana Lodge can help you. Learn more about our residential addiction treatment and how to get started by ringing us at 01908 489 421.

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