Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Ibuprofen is of a class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs, which help people who suffer from swelling, inflammation, pain, and fever. Ibuprofen is marketed under the brand names of Motrin, Midol, and Advil. You don't need to have a prescription for it. But you need to take some cautions when using it, such as knowing ibuprofen and alcohol are compatible together or not.

Can You Take Ibuprofen with Alcohol?

It is generally not harmful to take these two things together as long as you are not taking too much ibuprofen or drinking too much. If you take too much of either one, you can increase your risk of dangerous and sometimes, life-threatening problems. You should also not take these two together while you are driving a motor vehicle.

  • Medications like ibuprofen can cause liver problems, even if you don't drink alcohol at the same time and especially if you take the drug on an empty stomach. Alcohol can also do damage to the liver, so the combination can really harm your liver.
  • If you take ibuprofen with alcohol, you can get ulcers of the stomach that are severely painful. The pain is not a superficial type of pain but is a deep visceral pain from damage to your internal organs.
  • You can begin to have bleeding inside the stomach, especially if you take more than two drinks with ibuprofen. One research study of more than 1,200 patients revealed that the use of ibuprofen on a regular basis increased the chances of having upper GI bleeding in patients who were also drinkers. Those who used these two substances on rare occasions didn't have an increased risk, however. If you have a history of stomach ulcers or other stomach problems, your chances of having trouble with ibuprofen and alcohol together increase.
  • Using ibuprofen in a long term can cause kidney damage, which will be more likely if you also use alcohol. If you already have kidney disease, heart disease, or liver disturbances, you shouldn't take alcohol with alcohol without a doctor's permission.

What About Taking Other Painkillers with Alcohol?

Other painkillers may be taken by you, including acetaminophen and aspirin, for relieving the discomfort. These may cause problems with alcohol use, depending on how much you drink and how much of the medications you take while drinking alcohol.

If you just occasionally drink alcohol, such as one to two drinks of an alcoholic beverage per day, you shouldn't experience any added risk when taking acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. If you are an alcoholic, on the other hand, your risk of experiencing other problems will go up.

Are There Any More Precautions of Taking Ibuprofen?

There are more precautions of using ibuprofen besides the problems of taking ibuprofen and alcohol together. Some of these are as follows:

1.   Heart Attack or Stroke

Taking ibuprofen can increase the chances of having a stroke or heart attack. It is even more dangerous to take if you have been diagnosed with heart disease already.

2.   Stomach or Intestinal Bleeding

Ibuprofen can result in stomach or intestinal bleeding, often without any type of warning. This is more likely to occur if you have a history of a previous stomach ulcer, if you are older than 60 years of age, are a smoker, are in bad health, or if you are taking medications that thin your blood or are taking a steroid medication.

3.   Skin Reactions

You can get a significant skin rash if you take ibuprofen. If you develop a rash, you should seek medical attention immediately. The same is true if you develop skin peeling, loosening of the skin, muscle pain, itching, blistering of the skin, sore throat, white spots in the mouth, fatigue, weakness, or reddish skin sores.

4.   Serious Side Effects

You should be on the lookout for serious side effects while taking ibuprofen. These include facial swelling, hands and feet swelling, black/tarry stools, vomiting coffee grounds, severe stomach pain, bleeding, skin rash, or bruising. Other serious side effects include signs of heart problems, such as tightness in the chest, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, weakness, stroke symptoms, or flushing of the skin.

5.   Anaphylaxis

Ibuprofen can result in anaphylaxis. This is a rare occurrence but results in shortness of breath, wheezing, narrowed airway, swelling of the face, or swelling of the throat. This can happen in anyone who is already allergic to aspirin or other NSAIDs. Anaphylaxis is dangerous and can result in death if you do not receive immediate attention by calling 911 for help.

6.   Meningitis

Some people who take ibuprofen will develop symptoms of meningitis. If you are experiencing headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, or vomiting, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

7.   Teratogenic

You may have problems with harm to the fetus if you take ibuprofen during pregnancy. You should never take ibuprofen and alcohol during pregnancy as both can cause congenital problems in the unborn child. If you have been taking ibuprofen and have found you are pregnant, tell the doctor about this as soon as you can and stop both.

8.   Blurry Vision

You should seek the advice of your doctor if you develop blurry vision, problems reading, or other visual changes. You may wish to be seen by an ophthalmologist if you have eye problems while on ibuprofen.

9.   Surgery

If you are having some type of surgery or a medical test in which there will be bleeding, you should tell your doctor that you are taking ibuprofen. You may need to stop taking the ibuprofen for a week or so before having your surgery or switch to a medication that won't thin the blood. 

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