It’s common for people to enjoy a drink or two after a night out, and it’s also not uncommon for them to take ibuprofen for headaches or pain. But what happens if you mix the two? Is it safe or is there a chance that the combination could kill you? The short answer: no. However, if you regularly take ibuprofen and drink heavily, you’re at an increased risk of serious complications.
Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication will ibuprofen and alcohol kill you that is widely used to treat a wide range of conditions, from minor ailments like colds and flu to major pain disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is categorized as an NSAID, which means that it works by blocking the enzymes in your body that produce certain natural substances that cause inflammation and pain. However, if you drink while taking ibuprofen, the alcohol may interfere with the way your body uses the medication and increase the risk of stomach ulcers or bleeding. This is particularly true for individuals who have preexisting stomach issues or take other medications that make them more prone to these side effects.
Drinking ibuprofen while also drinking alcohol can make these problems even worse, and in some cases, it can lead to severe side effects that are potentially deadly. According to Poonam Desai, DO, an NYC-based ER doctor and TedX speaker, mixing alcohol and ibuprofen can lead to a variety of adverse effects, including stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, respiratory problems, heart failure and liver damage.
In addition to ibuprofen, most other NSAIDs are dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Some, such as naproxen and celecoxib, can cause stomach ulcers when combined with alcoholic beverages, while others, such as meloxicam, increase your risk of bleeding in the brain.
Another issue that can occur when you combine ibuprofen and alcohol is that the NSAID makes it more difficult for your body to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you notice symptoms such as chest pains, slurred speech or weakness on one side of the body, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can also interfere with how your liver processes your body’s natural steroids, which can cause long-term damage to the organ. Eventually, this can lead to fatty liver, cirrhosis or toxic hepatitis. Those who take high doses of NSAIDs for extended periods of time, as well as those who drink heavily, are at the highest risk for developing these long-term liver diseases.
While occasional ibuprofen use and alcohol consumption are unlikely to cause fatal liver or kidney problems, anyone who consumes these two items together should be aware of the risks. As a general rule, if you’re going to be consuming more than one or two drinks per day for females and more than two drinks daily for men, then it’s best to skip the ibuprofen and stick with non-alcoholic pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen.