Ibuprofen belongs to Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat mild to moderate pain, inflammation and fever. It is readily available over the counter in tablet, capsule, soluble powders and liquid form. It is a non-selective COX inhibitor and shows its effect by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins at the site of infection or tissue damage. 

Prostaglandin are the hormones that are produced to feel the pain as an opposite reaction to circumstances.

When ibuprofen is taken occasionally in recommended doses, it is safe to use but has some harmful effects if safety criteria are not met.

Why Do People Take Alcohol For Pain Relieving?

Where the majority of the population take Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs for alleviating the pain, nearly 28% people turn to alcohol to reduce their suffering from chronic pain.

Alcohol directly works on the central nervous system , it depresses the CNS and makes the consumer feel drowsy and dizzy and also zone out , hence decreasing the pain.

After the intake of alcohol, it reaches the bloodstream and remains there till it is processed. If an individual drinks alcohol more frequently than a body can process, his blood alcohol level rises leading to harmful effects. 

Thus, both medications and alcohol have a negative impact on health when taken alone or in combination, as it harms the kidney, irritates gastric lining and causes ulcers etc. Though intake of alcohol while on ibuprofen doesn’t necessarily intensify these symptoms but the side effects may worsen one another.

Drug (NSAIDs) With Alcohol

NSAIDs are a group of non-steroidal medications that are used to treat mild-to-moderate fever, pain and inflammation. 

Alcohol does not interact directly with NSAIDs but may intensify the side effects of one another. Consumption of three or more drinks a day while on medication can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding. It is recommended to take alcoholic drinks in optimum quantities (2 drinks/day for male and 1 drink/ day for females) for healthy people and should avoid taking drinks while on NSAIDs to prevent from its harmful effects. 

NSAIDs should be avoided by pregnant women as it may cause the risk of miscarriage. Also, these should be avoided by people suffering from liver or renal disorder, or chronic kidney disease (CKD) to prevent kidney failure.

Why You Should Not Mix Ibuprofen With Alcohol?

Mixing Medicine with alcohol can throw you into unbearable health consequences. Due to the dizzy nature of alcohol and NSAIDs it is not advisable to take it together.

Every individual must limit the consumption of alcohol for daily use due to health concerns or while taking any medication, especially NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Both alcohol and ibuprofen have similar side effects because of which ibuprofen carries a warning about combining it with alcohol. Also, there are some drug interactions with this combination that affect the functioning of both drugs. These includes-

  • Oral corticosteroids (e.g., prednisolone)
  • SSRIs (e.g., Fluoxetine, sertraline)
  • Anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin, clopidogrel)
  • SNRIs (e.g., duloxetine)
  • Other NSAIDs (e.g., Aspirin, celecoxib, naproxen)

There could be an addictive effect if a person takes alcohol and ibuprofen. This may impair the brain and renal functioning and can also cause loss of coordination, increased sleepiness and slower reaction time.

Effects and Risks associated with the combination of ibuprofen and alcohol

People in order to increase the pain relief effect are combining two elements together causing harmful reactions. Although occasional alcohol consumer have less chances of undergoing interaction.

Mostly every individual suffers from some or other pain now and then. This is very exhausting and troubling but for this, dependency on synthetic chemicals or readily available painkillers and alcohol can harm health and quality of life.

Occasionally drinking while on NSAID such as ibuprofen is unlikely to cause any harmful effect on a healthy person but getting habitual to it and consuming alcohol in excess for a longer period can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, increased drowsiness and kidney failure.

Stomach ulcer- Alcohol and ibuprofen irritate the lining of the stomach and digestive tract. Mixing the two can increase the risk of ulcers and bleeding in the digestive tract. It is advised to avoid taking ibuprofen for a longer period and to avoid alcohol while on NSAIDs as it intensifies the risk of stomach ulcers. Also, always consume ibuprofen with food to prevent gastric irritation.

Kidney disorder- All NSAIDs can impair the functioning of the kidney as these drugs show their effect by inhibiting the enzyme in kidneys called cyclooxygenase (COX) and inhibiting prostaglandins’ production. This can lead to renal failure if this drug is used for a prolonged period.
Consumption of alcohol can worsen this effect by damaging the filters called glomeruli. More the person drinks, the harder it is for the kidneys to work.

Drowsiness- Alcohol and ibuprofen together impact brain functioning as they lead to excess drowsiness, which in turn lead to increased sleepiness or impaired ability to function and coordination.

Cardiovascular problem- The combination of alcohol and ibuprofen can be lethal as they start experiencing shortness of breath, slurred speech and chest pain. If weakness is observed in one side of the body, it should be immediately reported to the healthcare professional. The person with high blood pressure might face difficulty in maintaining a normal blood pressure. This may lead to heart problems, stroke or heart attack.

Safety Measures To Avoid Mixing Drinking And Ibuprofen

Health and wellness is the biggest factor for a happy living. For this, everyone needs to be very careful, vigilant and should read all instructions, warnings before taking any medication. People should take ibuprofen for short duration only and at the lowest manageable dose. If the pain or inflammation persists after this dose, seek medical help from a healthcare provider for better treatment.

Occasional drinking can prevent unwanted side effects but at the same time excess drinking worsens the side effects. Some types of wine, liquors and beer have greater alcohol content as compared to others. Wine and beer are not safer to drink than liquor, when it comes to taking in combination with ibuprofen.

If a person wants to take alcohol while on NSAIDs or if a person is highly addicted to drinking and fails to stop alcohol on his own, should also consult a doctor to help reduce the alcohol intake.

When Should You Drink After Taking Ibuprofen?

There is no such timeline of when alcohol can be consumed after taking ibuprofen. Alcohol and ibuprofen interact with each other and can affect the functioning of the brain and body. It is advised to avoid drinking alcohol while on ibuprofen but if a person is addicted to drinking and wishes to drink while on medication, he should consume alcohol approx. 12 hours after taking ibuprofen.

Usually, ibuprofen shows its effect within 30 minutes and reaches the peak level after 1-2 hrs and is quickly eliminated from the body. However, this varies with person as a person's body size tells how long a drug will remain in the system. It should not be used, that's the advice we have.

What Are The Other Options That Don’t Interact With Alcohol?

NSAIDs are usually considered safe for use but its prolonged usage can cause stomach ulcers, bleeding and increased drowsiness. The consumption of alcohol with NSAIDs can even intensify the harmful effects. In this case, people look for an alternative which is best suited in all conditions.

Acetaminophen (tylenol) is one such drug which has a function similar to NSAIDs but Tylenol breaks down in the body by the same substance that breaks alcohol. Excessive and consistent drinking can damage this process, which can turn Tylenol into a toxic substance that can cause liver damage.


Combination of meds can be good if it is not interacting. Alcohol increases the acids in the stomach and intake of NSAIDs alongside will also increase side effects. People can take optimum amounts of alcohol and ibuprofen for a shorter duration with the lowest manageable dose but the combination of these two should be avoided to prevent the harmful effects on the body.


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