What Are The Risks of Taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol?

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  • What Are The Risks of Taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol? – Abbeycare

The mixing of both alcohol and Ibuprofen includes risks.

The risks are attached to the amounts of ‘each’ taken and will vary from individual to individual.

The main concern is just how safe it is to take both and if there are any safer alternatives?

Large consumption of alcohol, for example, more than the recommended weekly amount of 14 units, may through time cause physical and/or mental health conditions to occur to the user.

As with prolonged use of Ibuprofen (of even the recommended daily dose) being administered may in some cases begin to affect the human body negatively.

However both are legal substances and both can be bought over the counter. Therefore it’s up to the user to discern their own use. This in itself may be the catalyst to some of the problems encountered.

The user of both decides upon how much of each they can consume regardless of the advice on the packaging and the governments guidance pertaining safe dosage.

adverse reactions to Ibuprofen and Alcohol

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of adverse reactions to Ibuprofen and Alcohol? 

They are two similar adverse reactions between Ibuprofen and alcohol. One being stomach discomfort. Large amounts of alcohol consumed over a long period of time will begin to aggravate the lining of the stomach as the acidic nature of alcohol slowly corrodes the protective factors of the lining.

Through time Ibuprofen a tablet from a group of tablets known as Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory NSAID can also cause inflammation of the stomach lining and in some instances gastrointestinal bleeding. This bleeding can also occur with alcohol use. 

The second similar adverse reaction is related to the liver. Long term alcohol use can affect the liver. When the liver is damaged it heals in healing it leaves a scar this scar tissue mounts up and the liver begins to function under full capacity.

Similar Contraindications:

  • Stomach problems; aggravated lining, corrosion of lining, gastritis, gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Liver: slowed liver metabolism, inflamed, damaged and possible failure

What Are Other Risks of Taking Alcohol and Ibuprofen NSAID’s? 

Gastrointestinal Bleeding, this is a similar possible contraindication from both alcohol use and Ibuprofen use. The stomach lining is compromised in some cases due to overuse or prolonged use of both these substances.

The consequences to the those suffering from Gastrointestinal Bleeding can be painful and come without warning.

  • Blood in Stools - Black Stools
  • Traces of blood in vomit
  • Ulcers and perforations in the intestine
  • In severe cases death can occur

Kidney Damage

The kidney’s are one of the body’s main organs and are vital for allowing the body to carry out its normal functioning. Unseen it can be hard to appreciate the work being carried out by these organs however if damaged the results to the body can be uncomfortable and worrisome.

  • Urine levels decrease causing discomfort
  • Swelling of extremities such as hands and feet
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Pain in chest

Stroke or Heart Disease

Alcohol can cause the narrowing of the arteries and is known as a risk factor attached to coronary heart disease. As mentioned above all the organs of the body rely on each other to perform to an optimal level.

Heart disease can cause strokes to occur if a clot blocks an artery (Ischaemic Stroke) or bursts and bleeds (Haemorrhagic Stroke). Some of the symptoms for those suffering potential stroke and heart disease are:

  • Chest pain
  • Loss of breath
  • Weakness on either side of the body
  • Slurred Speech

Reduction in Alertness

A side effect of both Ibuprofen and Alcohol use can be a feeling of drowsiness or dizziness it can be hard to work out what is causing these symptoms especially if intoxicated.

  • Increase distraction
  • Slow reaction
  • Increased drowsiness

Other side effects of Ibuprofen are many and varied. That is not to say taking the dose as prescribed and over the short term will not benefit those taking the NSAID tablet. Ibuprofen can be taken for muscle and joint pain, menstrual cramping and in some cases giving to children if they have Tonsilitis, for example.

Ibuprofen is available in tablet, gel or syrup form. The gel can also cause rashing, blisters, swelling of the face, bruising of the skin and/or itching.

The drug has its positive use in society however overuse, combining with alcohol and a sensitivity (not specifically related to overuse and alcohol) can cause many and varied side effects.

This shows the importance of following the strict guidelines on the packaging. And in relation to alcohol drinking the recommended weekly amounts. As always if any contradictions occur seeking medical attention as soon as possible.

  • Dizziness
  • Back pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Painful eyes
  • Red or yellow eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Allergic reaction
  • Nervousness
  • Increase in weight
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Swelling and fluid retention
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • High Blood pressure
  • The instructions with Ibuprofen encourage you not to take if you have asthma or are pregnant.

    What Are Alternatives to Ibuprofen if taking alcohol? 

    To be safe it is recommended not to mix pain medication with alcohol. If mixing then always take both in moderation if possible.

    Common over the counter medications include:

    • Ibuprofen
    • Paracetamol
    • Aspirin

    Paracetamol is usually ‘a go to’ tablet if suffering from headaches, colds and flu. Care should be taken when taking Paracetamol if you have liver problems. Good practice would always be to read the information sheet that is in the box and if still concerned take medical guidance.

    Aspirin is less popular now however it is still used as a blood thinning property for those having suffered or at risk of a stroke or heart disease.

    Aspirin should not be given to under 16s.

    Take care to keep doses low as alcohol and aspirin has been shown to cause intestinal bleeding if overused.

    What are the alternatives to over-the-counter medicine when using alcohol?

    The risks of taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol have been discussed. There are also possible risks from Paracetamol and Aspirin.

    Here are some anti-inflammatory natural solutions:

    • Turmeric – keeps joints healthy and has anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid if on Anti-Blood Clot medication
    • Arnica Gel used as directed on the skin or Arnica powder mixed with water and applied to the skin.
    • Cayenne Pepper – has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used in food, as powder in hot water, as a gel or cream.
    • Ginger – in food, in smoothies etc. and is known to have painkiller and anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Omega 3 Fatty Acids - such as fish oil as anti-inflammatory properties
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - is a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties
    • An Anti-Inflammatory diet – such as garlic and broccoli.

    Here are some other solutions:

    • Rest the injured area, if below the hip raise the swollen area (if comfortable and safe to do so)
    • Ice packs if swollen
    • Heat packs to release tension
    • Seek the assistance of a Physiotherapist or Qualified Massage Therapist
    • Holistic Therapies to reduce anxiety levels
    • Meditation practices such as Mindfulness to distract yourself from the pain

    Important Questions to ask before using Ibuprofen and Alcohol

    • Does my pain require medical attention instead of self-medicating with ibuprofen and Alcohol?
    • I am concerned about my symptoms and ignoring them?
    • Can I take the Ibuprofen without using alcohol?
    • If no – do I need to take Ibuprofen?
    • Are there any alternatives to pain relief I can follow?
    • Am I concerned about my drinking and require support to stop?

    What is an Inpatient Rehab Programme?

    Inpatient rehab, more commonly known as residential treatment has been developed to provide a safe environment from the recovery of excessive alcohol use.

    Recovery, meaning a return to self, prior to the beginning of problematic alcohol use. Is delivered by means of detox, rehab programme (group work and 121 sessions) and formulation of an aftercare plan to implement upon leaving.

    Alcohol rehab durations may vary in length but a typical stay lasts 28 Days. During this period of hiatus from the pressures of daily life interventions are delivered to bring about a profound change in thinking.

    When once dependent upon alcohol or drugs – the newly independent resident is supported to believe they can and will stay abstinent from their drug of choice if they commit their self to the programme of recovery on offer within the rehab facility.

    New clients can be certain in the knowledge that the programme on offer utilises models of recovery which have been tried and tested to deliver life changing results.

    Taking Alcohol with Ibuprofen incurs risks to the user. Just how the combination of both these drugs will affect the body is different from person to person. It cannot be said with certainty that some or all of the symptoms will be experienced.

    However prolonged use over many years will begin to have adverse effects on the human body which may present in many of the conditions listed above.

    Alternatives to Ibuprofen can be considered, if worried about negative side effects, but as always consider if these alternative therapies also pose risks.

    If worried about the amount of alcohol being consumed or the negative effects experienced due to the lifestyle, help is available and Abbeycare can be contacted on:

    On the free 24/7 Helpline 01603 513 091 or by filling out the form below to speak to a trained recovery practitioner.

    Last Updated: June 10, 2021

    About the author

    Peter Szczepanski

    Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.