Can You Mix Ibuprofen and Alcohol
The most popular substance that people use recreationally is alcohol. In fact, it’s quite common for people to partake in an alcoholic beverage when socializing with family and friends or after a long day at work. Prior to drinking alcohol though, it’s important that people are conscious of whether or not it’s safe to do so while under whatever medication that they are taking, as even mixing ibuprofen and alcohol can lead to health issues. If you are unable to stop the use of alcohol, it may be a good time to consider our inpatient rehab in Kokomo, Indiana.
What is Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that people take to help relieve themselves of pain. Ibuprofen helps relieve people’s pain by blocking the prostaglandins in the body.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like lipids that the human body makes at sites of tissue damage or infection. As a result, prostaglandins often cause inflammation in the body while it is healing itself. Prostaglandins also help the body form blood clots to stop excessive blood loss and protect itself from infection where there is a cut or injury.
On top of helping the body repair damaged tissue and protect itself from infections, prostaglandins help the human body perform many of its natural physiological functions. For example, prostaglandins help the female body create uterine contractions so that the uterus can push out blood from the uterine lining when a woman is menstruating.
Prostaglandins also help the female body create contractions when it needs to give birth to a baby. Thus, in many ways, prostaglandins cause the body to feel pain. Because prostaglandins often cause the human body to experience pain and inflammation, taking ibuprofen to block prostaglandins in the body, helps relieve people of pain and inflammation.
What Does Ibuprofen Help Treat?
As previously mentioned, ibuprofen helps relieve people of pain and inflammation. The forms of pain and inflammation that people often take ibuprofen to help treat include:
- Body and muscle stiffness
- Joint pain
- Body aches
- Menstrual cramp pain
- General bodily Inflammation
- Stiffness, pain, and inflammation due to arthritis
- Headaches and migraines
Common Ibuprofen Medications
People can receive prescription forms of ibuprofen from a doctor or purchase over-the-counter (OTC) forms of ibuprofen at their local pharmacy. Even when taking OTC forms of ibuprofen, one can take brand name or generic forms of the medication.
Common brand name forms of ibuprofen include:
Ways That People Take Ibuprofen
People usually take ibuprofen medication orally. There are certain types of ibuprofen though that people take through the rectum due to them being suppositories.
When taking ibuprofen orally, they usually come in the following forms:
- Chewable tablets
- Soluble powders
How to Take Ibuprofen?
When taking ibuprofen, follow the directions on the label of the bottle or box that the medication comes in. Most forms of ibuprofen suggest that only people of age 12 or older take the medication. Take note though that people over the age of 65 may have a stronger reaction to the medication and thus, may need to take a smaller dose. To avoid stomach issues, take ibuprofen with food.
When taking prescription forms of ibuprofen, follow the directions that the doctor who prescribed the medication gave. Just in case though, a special MedGuide should come with the ibuprofen prescription and every refill.
Do not share prescription ibuprofen medication with others. If an overdose of ibuprofen occurs, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.
Conditions to Be Aware of When Considering Taking Ibuprofen
It may be dangerous for people with certain health conditions to take ibuprofen. People who are dehydrated or have been vomiting recently should beware of taking ibuprofen.
If you suffer from the following conditions, ask a doctor if it’s safe to use ibuprofen before taking it:
- A bleeding disorder
- Heart disease or other heart issues
- A recent heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lung health issues
- Stomach bleeding or other stomach issues
- Stomach ulcers
- Intestinal issues
- A recent stroke
People who smoke tobacco cigarettes, receive steroids such as dexamethasone or prednisone, have received a coronary artery bypass graft within the past two weeks, or take blood thinning medication or any sort of medication that prevents blood clotting should also ask their doctors if it’s safe to take ibuprofen prior to doing so. The same goes for people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, are breastfeeding, or who suffer from allergic reactions when taking ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen and Alcohol
While drinking a small amount of alcohol shouldn’t have any effect on someone who’s taking ibuprofen, people who’ve recently taken ibuprofen should be aware of their alcohol intake. This is because ibuprofen and alcohol typically don’t mix well together.
Risks of Taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol
Taking ibuprofen and alcohol can make the ibuprofen less effective while simultaneously making the negative side effects of both substances worse. Other risks of taking ibuprofen and alcohol include the following:
Both ibuprofen and alcohol individually have the ability to irritate the stomach and digestive tract. As a result, taking high doses of ibuprofen or taking ibuprofen for an extended period of time can cause a person to develop stomach ulcers. The same is true for people who consume too much alcohol. In this case, First City offers an alcoholism treatment program to help get people’s life back on track and to help improve their health.
If both ibuprofen and alcohol can individually cause a person to develop stomach ulcers, consuming ibuprofen and alcohol at around the same time or within close time periods of one another can definitely lead to a person developing stomach ulcers.
Similar to with stomach ulcers, consuming ibuprofen and alcohol at around the same time or within close time periods of one another can definitely lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. The longer a person takes ibuprofen and the more ibuprofen that a person takes, the greater the chance that it may lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
Signs of Gastrointestinal Bleeding
There are some clear signs of gastrointestinal bleeding. Some of these signs include the following:
- A continued stomach ache
- Tar-like stools
- Bleeding in one’s stool and/or vomit
- Red or dark brown urine
Kidneys filter harmful substances from the body. Because alcohol is a harmful substance, the more alcohol that a person drinks, the more work the kidneys have to do to filter the alcohol out of the body’s system. This means that too much alcohol consumption can lead to kidney damage.
Because ibuprofen stops the production of the kidney enzyme cyclooxygenase in hopes of lowering inflammation and pain, taking too much ibuprofen can also cause kidney damage. If ibuprofen and alcohol can cause kidney damage individually, imagine the kidney damage that they can cause when together. Our center for alcohol detox in Indianapolis can help detox the body, which will in turn, begin the healing and recovering process.
Signs of Kidney Damage
Signs of kidney damage include the following:
- Swelling hands, ankles, and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Decrease in amount of urine
Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause serious liver damage. While taking ibuprofen on its own won’t cause liver damage, when taken with alcohol, the amount of liver damage that ibuprofen can cause is massive. That’s why, if a person already has a high risk of developing liver disease, he or she should avoid drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen.
Signs of Liver Damage
Signs of liver damage include the following:
- Right upper belly pain
- Loss of appetite
- Light-colored stool
- Dark yellow or brown urine
- Yellowing skin or eyes
- Unusual weakness or fatigue
Both individually and together, heavy alcohol and ibuprofen use can cause a person to suffer from heart problems. Heart-related issues linked specifically to alcohol use include high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and coronary artery disease.
Signs of Heart Problems
Signs of heart problems include the following:
- Pain or tightness in the chest, shoulders, or arms
- Shortness of breath
- Cold or clammy skin
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
Individually, both ibuprofen and alcohol can cause a person to suffer from drowsiness. Since both ibuprofen and alcohol can individually cause drowsiness, it shouldn’t be surprising that combining the two can make the level of drowsiness that a person suffers from worse. In fact, combining alcohol and ibuprofen can cause a person to suffer from so much drowsiness that he or she can’t function.
Signs of Increased Drowsiness
Signs of increased drowsiness include the following:
- Lack of coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Slurred speech
- Slow movement
Signs That You’ve Mixed Too Much Alcohol While on Ibuprofen
Similar to all the different signs of bodily damage that the use of ibuprofen and alcohol can cause, there are also signs of consuming too much alcohol while on ibuprofen. These signs include the following:
- Frequent headaches
- Loss of coordination
How Long After Taking Ibuprofen Can I Drink Alcohol?
Consuming a small amount of alcohol shouldn’t affect a person taking ibuprofen. Still, to be safe, people should avoid drinking alcohol until 10 hours after their last dose of ibuprofen. This is because it takes the human body around 10 hours to rid itself of ibuprofen. Note though that people who regularly take ibuprofen shouldn’t stop taking the medication just to drink alcohol. They should just avoid alcohol use altogether.
So, Is It Safe to Mix Ibuprofen and Alcohol?
The answer to this question depends on how much ibuprofen and alcohol one plans to consume and when. If a person only took the small suggested dosage of ibuprofen once many hours ago, having an alcoholic beverage should be safe. On the other hand, if a person recently took ibuprofen and/or took a large amount of ibuprofen, then drinking alcohol would be dangerous.
To avoid developing any sort of health issues due to excessive ibuprofen and alcohol use, only take the amount of ibuprofen stated in the directions on the medication’s bottle or box. Also, only drink a small amount of alcohol several hours after taking ibuprofen.
Receive Help Managing Medication and Alcohol Use at First City Recovery Center
Consuming too much ibuprofen or alcohol, or mixing high amounts of ibuprofen and alcohol is considered drug and alcohol abuse and can lead to addiction. If you suffer from medication or alcohol abuse issues, you can receive treatment here at First City Recovery Center.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.