Ibuprofen and Alcohol: Dangers of Mixing Painkillers and Alcohol

how long does it take for ibuprofen to work
Ibuprofen and Alcohol

When it comes to dealing with any pain or discomfort, the first thing we do is drink a painkiller from the medicine cabinet. However, this is not always the safe option. Ibuprofen, for example, is a medication that is available without a prescription but is extremely potent. If ibuprofen is not are not taken properly, it may have negative and severe side effects. The risks are even more dangerous when this medication is combined with alcohol.

The Dangers of Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol

In reality, combining medication and alcohol is harmful to your health. When certain drugs are combined with alcohol, they lose their effectiveness. Furthermore, alcohol can amplify the negative effects of certain medications. This second interaction occurs when ibuprofen and alcohol are combined. 

A small amount of alcohol in conjunction with ibuprofen is usually not harmful. However, taking more ibuprofen or alcohol than recommended raises your risk of serious complications. 

  • Stomach Ulcers and Intestinal Bleeding

A study of 1,224 people found that taking ibuprofen on a regular basis increased the risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding. The common symptoms are blood in vomit, constipation and/or diarrhea.

Ibuprofen has the potential to cause stomach lining irritation. This can result in a fatal stomach or intestine perforation. Ibuprofen should only be taken as needed to alleviate symptoms. It is not recommended that you take it for an extended period of time. Precautions like these can help to reduce the negative effects. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ibuprofen’s interaction with alcohol causes undesirable side effects, such as internal bleeding, ulcers, and an irregular heartbeat. 

Because ibuprofen can cause stomach irritation, it is best taken with food. Ibuprofen use over time or at high doses increases the risk of gastric ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. When mixed with alcohol, you are at risk of further irritating the stomach and intestines. Combining the two significantly increases the risk of ulcers and bleeding. 

Furthermore, daily ibuprofen use or long-term dependence increases the risk of developing health issues. 

  • Kidney Problems

Both Ibuprofen abuse and alcohol consumption can be harmful to your kidneys. Kidney problems can lead to the following symptoms: exhaustion, swollen hands, feet, or ankles, shortness of breath, and insomnia.

Ibuprofen relieves pain and relaxes the body. Meanwhile, alcohol acts as a relaxant. These two medications increase the risk of distracted driving, slow reaction times, and drowsiness significantly. As such, driving under the influence of alcohol (or alcohol and ibuprofen) is never a good idea. If you have consumed alcohol and are taking ibuprofen, you should not drive. 

how much ibuprofen can i take
How Long Does Ibuprofen Take to Work

As a result, if you regularly take ibuprofen, consult your doctor before drinking. Based on your risk factors, your doctor will determine whether you can drink alcohol on an occasional basis. You can drink in moderation if you only take ibuprofen on an as-needed basis. Keep in mind, however, that even a single drink while taking ibuprofen can cause stomach upset. 

The kidneys cleanse the body of potentially harmful substances such as alcohol. When an individual consumes more alcohol, the kidneys work harder.

Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) influence kidney function by inhibiting an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase (COX). Ibuprofen reduces inflammation and pain by inhibiting COX. This, however, temporarily impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter. 

The kidneys are taxed by alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption, according to the National Kidney Foundation, doubles the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. 

Ibuprofen can also cause significant kidney damage in healthy people who take it on an as-needed basis, whether or not alcohol is consumed.

  • Severe Drowsiness 

While alcohol causes slower reaction times and impaired coordination, the combination of alcohol and ibuprofen has the ability to put you to sleep or slow down your brain function and natural reflexes. The combination of the two may aggravate drowsiness, resulting in excessive sleepiness or incapacity. 

The Dangers for Older Individuals

Older adults, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, are more likely to have medication-alcohol interactions. The danger grows as the body’s ability to break down alcohol declines with age. 

As people get older, they are more likely to take medications that may impair their ability to drink. 

According to a drug-alcohol interaction study, the majority of older Americans take prescription or over-the-counter medications, and more than half regularly consume alcohol. When medication and alcohol are combined, the risk of falls, accidents, and drug interactions increases. 

Excessive Ibuprofen Intake

Taking a large amount of ibuprofen or using it for an extended period of time is dangerous for individuals who have had stomach bleeds in the past. Thus, only use blood thinners or steroids if necessary. 

Gastroenteritis (inflammation of your stomach) may also be a result of ibuprofen abuse. One may also experience headaches caused by fluid retention, hypertension, kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. Dizziness may also occur, as well as allergy symptoms such as hives, rash, and swelling of the face. In other cases, ibuprofen is also known to aggravate asthma symptoms. 

If you are breastfeeding or taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, consult your doctor before taking ibuprofen. Ibuprofen use during pregnancy may be hazardous to the baby. 

The Purpose of Ibuprofen and Responsible Consumption

To simply put it, ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter (OTC) NSAID. This medication is often prescribed for the treatment of inflammation, pain, and fever; and often goes by the brand names Advil, Midol, and Motrin. Widely available without the need for prescriptions, you must also take note that a variety of prescription medications contain ibuprofen. 

Ibuprofen should be taken for the shortest amount of time and at the lowest dose possible. If necessary, your doctor can advise you on more effective long-term pain management techniques. Ibuprofen can be found in many over-the-counter and prescription cold, headache, and pain reliever medications. To avoid taking too much ibuprofen, it is critical to read all medication labels before taking it.

Take ibuprofen to relieve a hangover, but keep in mind that it may contain alcohol. During this time, the stomach may be more sensitive. 

Moderate alcohol consumption may aid in mitigating negative side effects. The CDC defines moderate drinking as one drink per woman and two drinks per man per day. Thus, knowing a drink’s alcohol content is crucial. Some brands of beer and wine, for example, are significantly more alcoholic than others and are more lethal when combined with ibuprofen. Meanwhile, other liqueurs are stronger than others.


Taking ibuprofen as needed while drinking alcohol in moderation may be safe. However, before combining alcohol and ibuprofen, consider your health and the potential risks. Consult your doctor and seek medical advice if you have reservations about drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen.

No matter how mild you think a painkiller is, mixing it with alcohol consumption could wreak havoc on your entire system and jeopardize the function of your vital organs. As such, reduced alcohol consumption and less dependency on ibuprofen are the surefire ways to lower the risk of developing health conditions. This way, you could steer clear of unwanted side effects such as stomach bleeding, ulcers, kidney problems, and more.