Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) is an NSAID (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) designed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It’s commonly sold over the counter (OTC), meaning it doesn’t require a prescription. That said, some prescription-only pharmaceutical products may also include ibuprofen.
Although OTC medications such as ibuprofen are available without a prescription, they can still be somewhat potent medications. They also come with the risk of uncomfortable side effects, especially if they are not used as prescribed.
Should You Take Ibuprofen and Alcohol Together?
Combining any medication with alcohol can be dangerous to one’s health. Alcohol can render some medications less effective and compound others’ adverse effects.
In most instances, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol while using ibuprofen will not cause an issue. However, using above and beyond the recommended dosage of ibuprofen or consuming an excessively high amount of alcohol can significantly increase a person’s risk of complications.
A study of more than 1200 subjects revealed that ibuprofen’s regular use raised the risk of abdominal and intestinal bleeding in those who also drank alcohol. However, individuals who used ibuprofen infrequently and drank alcohol were not found to have an increased risk.
Symptoms of gastric bleeding may include persistent upset stomach, black, tarry stools, bloody vomit, and kidney damage. Chronic use of ibuprofen can cause damage to the kidneys. Alcoholism can harm the kidneys, so using ibuprofen and alcohol in conjunction can significantly increase an individual’s risk of kidney disease. Symptoms may include fatigue, swelling in hands or feet, shortness of breath, and reduced alertness.
Ibuprofen works to alleviate pain, helping to make a person feel relaxed. Alcohol has a comparable relaxing effect, so, when combined, these two substances may increase a person’s risk of not paying attention while driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery, slowed response times, and sedation. Of course, you should never drink alcohol and drive.
Finally, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDA), some studies have found that using alcohol in combination with ibuprofen can increase heart rate. An elevated heart rate can result in side effects such as dizziness and serious medical complications if the individual has a pre-existing heart or lung condition.
Ask a Physician
If you are using ibuprofen for long-term treatment, ask your health provider if it’s safe to consume alcohol. They may say yes or no based on your risk factors. For instance, if you use ibuprofen only occasionally, it may be safe for you to consume alcohol in moderation.
Side Effects of Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen can irritate a person’s stomach lining, resulting in gastric or intestinal perforation, which can prove lethal in extreme cases. If you use ibuprofen, you should take the lowest dosage you need to alleviate symptoms. You should also not use the drug for longer than necessary. Following these precautions can lower your risk of experience effects.
According to the ibuprofen warning label, the risk of stomach bleeding is heightened for those over 60 years of age, taking a high dosage, using the medication long-term or in addition to blood-thinning or steroid drugs, or have had a history of stomach bleeding.
As individuals age, their bodies cannot break down alcohol as effectively. Therefore, smaller amounts of alcohol in older persons can cause more significant interactions with ibuprofen, leading to increased risks.
Other possible side effects include the following:
- Stomach ulcers
- Fluid retention/swelling
- Headache and dizziness
- Allergic reactions
Furthermore, if you have asthma, ibuprofen can worsen the symptoms associated with this condition. High doses or extended use of ibuprofen may also lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Finally, if you are a breastfeeding mother or use other prescription or OTC medications, ask your health provider if it’s safe to take ibuprofen. Using ibuprofen while pregnant may harm a baby in utero.
Treatment for Alcoholism
If you take ibuprofen regularly to treat pain or inflammation, you are advised not to consume alcohol to decrease your risk of adverse complications. If you have found yourself unable to stop drinking on your own, you should consider seeking professional help.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are licensed and specialized addiction treatment facilities that focus on drug and alcohol addiction treatment and co-occurring mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression. We offer comprehensive programs that feature services essential for the recovery process, including psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, mindfulness therapy, health and wellness programs, and more.