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Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Ibuprofen is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Popular as a mild pain reliever, it goes by the brand names Advil and Motrin. It is also a common ingredient in other medications that treat fever, flu, migraine, and severe pain. It’s available in a wide range of doses, both over the counter and by prescription. While Ibuprofen and alcohol is not a commonly known combination to cause serious issues, it is always best to avoid mixing when possible and practice care.

Ibuprofen is considered one of the safest NSAIDs, and most people tolerate it well when they use it as directed. Still, it can cause internal problems when abused or used by people with certain conditions. These problems can range from stomach lining irritation to acute liver injury.

ibuprofen can be harmful to your health

Side Effects of Ibuprofen:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Internal bleeding
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Longer healing time for wounds and cuts
  • Dizziness
  • Kidney problems and failure
  • Liver problems
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Most people think of ibuprofen as a safe occasional pain reliever. However, there are situations when taking it can be harmful to your health. It can interact negatively with many medications, and isn’t always suitable for people with conditions such as asthma.

Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Ibuprofen can be especially dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other recreational substances. Even though it doesn’t produce or enhance a high, it can still intensify the negative side effects of alcohol and other drugs. Similarly, alcohol can worsen ibuprofen’s negative side effects.

Ibuprofen should always be taken at the lowest dosage needed to relieve pain, and you should never take it for extended periods of time. While a low dosage of Advil and alcohol is generally not dangerous, there is no way to predict how this will affect an individual. Depending on the dosage, frequency, and individual health factors, the effects of mixing ibuprofen with alcohol can be mild, severe, or sometimes even fatal.

If someone takes ibuprofen regularly (or takes more than the recommended dose) and drinks more than a small amount of alcohol, negative side effects can show up. A moderate amount of alcohol is different for everyone, but is usually around one drink for women and two drinks for men each day.

Side Effects of Ibuprofen and Alcohol

The interaction between ibuprofen and alcohol can intensify the negative side effects of both substances, without increasing any perceived benefits.

ibuprofen can intensify alcohol's sedative effects

Sedation and Loss of Alertness
Ibuprofen on its own is not a sedative drug. It will not cause drowsiness or “brain fog.” However, it can intensify alcohol’s sedative effects. The pain relief it provides can increase the feeling of relaxation that alcohol creates. With ibuprofen, your reflexes and responsiveness can slow down even more than with just alcohol. For instance, though drinking and driving is never a good idea, someone mixing ibuprofen and alcohol might drink more than a safe amount before driving without knowing it.

With the PM versions, sedation does occur. Similarly, with a low dosage in combination with alcohol the effects should not typically be terrible. However, again the effects vary from person to person due to various factors. Still, it is always best to avoid mixing sedatives as sedatives often slow breathing and heart rates, which at a high enough dosage can be fatal or cause serious long-lasting health issues.

Kidney and Liver Damage
Ibuprofen and alcohol both stress the kidneys and liver, even in moderate doses. When taken together, they can increase the risk of serious, long-term damage and even kidney and liver failure.

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Can you overdose on Ibuprofen?
Yes. Although taking ibuprofen does not cause or increase a high, taking too much can cause serious physical harm. Always use it exactly as directed, and do not mix with other medications unless directed by a doctor. In rare cases, an ibuprofen overdose can be fatal. More often, however, internal problems develop slowly from repeated, low-grade overdose (such as taking one or two pills too many).

Is ibuprofen addictive?
Ibuprofen is not considered an addictive medicine, but it can still play into substance abuse and increase the risk of overdose from other drugs. It is also not intended for habitual or long-term pain relief use.

Is Ibuprofen a blood thinner?
While ibuprofen is not actually a blood thinner, it can have a similar effect. If you cut yourself with ibuprofen in your system, it will take longer for your blood to clot and close the wound. You should not take ibuprofen with other blood thinners, especially without first consulting a doctor.

Is it safe to mix acetaminophen and alcohol?
Like Ibuprofen, acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter pain reliever. Similarly, taking acetaminophen while drinking alcohol can stress internal organs and potentially cause serious side effects. Small amounts taken together on rare occasions are generally safe.