Is It Safe to Take Ibuprofen with Alcohol?

Medically Reviewed By Philip Ngo, PharmD

Taking ibuprofen with alcohol may not be harmful for some people in certain situations, but there are risks to consider. Both substances can increase your chances of impaired organ function and gastrointestinal bleeding. These side effects may be particularly severe if you have an underlying health condition, like liver disease or digestive issues.

Read on to learn more about the interaction between ibuprofen and alcohol, and what to do if you think you have taken too much ibuprofen.

Can you take ibuprofen with alcohol?

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The safety of taking ibuprofen with alcohol can depend on a few factors. How much ibuprofen you take, the amount of alcohol you consume, and underlying health conditions can all make a difference.

According to the National Health Service, taking ibuprofen with a moderate amount of alcohol is usually safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source defines moderate drinking as two or fewer drinks per day for men and one or fewer drinks per day for women.

However, taking more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen or drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol may cause serious side effects and harm your body.

Some side effects of taking high doses of ibuprofen include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • breathing issues
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • kidney impairment
  • thrombocytopenia, or a low blood platelet count

Consuming heavy amounts of alcohol can cause:

Over time, heavy alcohol use can lead to serious conditions such as:

Some of these conditions, such as liver disease and digestive issues, can reduce your body’s ability to process ibuprofen and may worsen ibuprofen’s side effects.

If you have a health condition affecting your liver or kidneys, talk with your doctor before taking ibuprofen or consuming alcohol.

What are some risks of taking ibuprofen with alcohol?

Both ibuprofen and alcohol use have their own risks. Together, some of these risks may be more serious.

Liver damage

Ibuprofen is part of a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). According to a 2021 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , NSAIDs are a significant cause of drug-induced liver injuries.

Researchers looked at the interaction between ibuprofen and alcohol. They concluded that the combination of substances could induce hepatotoxicity, or liver damage caused by chemicals.

In addition, the CDC Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source notes that heavy alcohol use can lead to liver disease and other serious health conditions. People with liver issues should not take ibuprofen unless their doctor approves it.

Kidney damage

The National Kidney Foundation states that taking ibuprofen or other pain relievers at high doses or for long periods can both cause kidney disease and worsen an existing kidney condition.

A 2017 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of several studies also concluded that, while more research is necessary, it’s possible that chronic alcohol consumption could promote kidney dysfunction.

If you have kidney disease, talk with your doctor before taking ibuprofen or consuming alcohol.

Gastrointestinal bleeding

Both ibuprofen and alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Ibuprofen toxicity, which is caused by ibuprofen overdose, damages the gastric mucosa. The mucosa is the inner lining of the stomach. When the lining is damaged, it can cause bleeding and may progress to ulcers.

Similarly, heavy amounts of alcohol can cause inflammation in the intestines and may make damage to the intestinal lining more likely.

Together, ibuprofen and alcohol may put you at a higher risk of gastrointestinal damage and bleeding.

What should you do if you take too much ibuprofen with alcohol?

If you think you have taken too much ibuprofen with alcohol or if you are experiencing concerning side effects, seek immediate medical care or call 911.

People experiencing symptoms of ibuprofen toxicity can also call poison control at 800-222-1222 or use the poison control online tool to contact a specialist.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning and what to do about it.

How long after drinking alcohol can you take ibuprofen?

The length of time you should wait after drinking alcohol to take ibuprofen depends on many factors. These factors include:

  • how much alcohol you consumed
  • what type of alcohol you consumed
  • whether you have recently eaten
  • individual factors, like body weight

Alcohol has a half-life of around 4–5 hours. A half-life is the amount of time it takes for a substance to decrease to half its original value. This means it would take around 24 hours for your body to eliminate alcohol.

As a result, it may be best to wait 24 hours after drinking to take ibuprofen.

This waiting period may be different from person to person based on the factors discussed above. Talk with your doctor about your individual situation.

This section was reviewed by Philip Ngo, PharmD.

Summary

Occasionally taking no more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen with a moderate amount of alcohol may be safe for some people. However, taking higher doses of ibuprofen or consuming heavy amounts of alcohol can cause serious side effects.

This may be especially true for people with underlying health conditions that affect their liver, kidneys, or gastrointestinal tract. These conditions may make it more difficult for the body to process ibuprofen or alcohol and may increase the risk of organ damage.

Talk with your doctor before consuming any amount of ibuprofen or alcohol, particularly if you have an underlying condition. They can help you assess the risks.

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Medical Reviewer: Philip Ngo, PharmD
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 7
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