The Safety and Risks of Ibuprofen and Alcohol Together

Ibuprofen is a medication that can help reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. However, it is important to be careful when taking it, as it can have harmful side effects if not taken correctly. This includes avoiding alcohol while taking ibuprofen, which can increase the risk of adverse effects.

It is generally not advised to drink alcohol while taking ibuprofen, as the two substances can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. This can cause a range of side effects, from mild to severe, depending on the dose of ibuprofen and how much alcohol a person drinks.

This article will discuss the safety and risks of taking ibuprofen and alcohol together, as well as other potential side effects of ibuprofen. Keep reading. 

The Dangers of Taking Ibuprofen and Alcohol

The dangerous thing about mixing ibuprofen and alcohol is that the effects of the drug can be intensified. This can lead to health problems such as stomach ulcers, kidney problems, and an increased risk of bleeding.

It is generally safe to consume a small amount of alcohol while taking ibuprofen. However, consuming large amounts of either alcohol or ibuprofen can lead to serious health problems.

Can One Take Ibuprofen With Alcohol?

Ibuprofen is generally safe when taken as directed. However, drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen can increase your risk of developing an upset stomach or feeling drowsy. People with underlying medical conditions like liver or kidney disease are at the highest risk for experiencing these side effects.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Ibuprofen can cause the digestive tract to become irritated, so it’s essential to take the medication with food. Taking ibuprofen for a long time or in high doses can increase the risk of developing gastric ulcers or bleeding within the digestive tract. The longer a person takes ibuprofen, the higher the risk of stomach ulcer bleeding.

It is vital to call a doctor as soon as you observe any of the following symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding:

  • Blood in vomit
  • Persisting upset stomach
  • Tarry black stool

Kidney Issues

Long-term use of ibuprofen can damage your kidneys, and alcohol use can also harm your kidneys. Using ibuprofen and alcohol together then can significantly increase your risk of kidney problems.

Common symptoms of kidney problems are:

  • Body swelling 
  • Loss of focus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness 

Ibuprofen helps to relieve pain and can make a person feel more relaxed. Alcohol also has a relaxing effect on people. When these two drugs are combined, it increases the chances of a person not being able to pay attention while driving or having slow reaction times. 

This can be very dangerous, especially if a person is driving while under the influence of alcohol. It is always best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen or to refrain from driving altogether if you have consumed alcohol.


As mentioned, alcohol and ibuprofen can cause drowsiness, and taking them together can worsen this drowsiness. This can lead to excessive sleepiness or an inability to function normally.

It is never safe to drink alcohol and drive. As you know, alcohol slows down your reaction time and makes it harder to coordinate your movements. This undoubtedly can lead to accidents.

Other Ibuprofen Side Effects to Note

Ibuprofen may cause damage to the lining of the stomach, which could result in a perforation (hole). This is a potentially fatal condition. To minimize the risk of stomach damage, take the lowest dosage of ibuprofen needed to relieve your symptoms, and don’t take it longer than necessary. Remember that stomach bleeding risks are greater if an individual:

  • Has a history of stomach bleeding
  • Has been taking the drug for a long time
  • Is 60 years old and above
  • Takes a high ibuprofen dose
  • Takes blood thinners

Other side effects of taking ibuprofen that you may encounter include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Dizziness
  • Gastritis
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Swelling

If you have asthma, you should not take ibuprofen because it can worsen your asthma symptoms. Ibuprofen can also cause kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke if you take it in high doses or for a long time. 

If you are breastfeeding or taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, you should ask your doctor if it is safe to take ibuprofen. Taking ibuprofen while pregnant can harm your unborn baby, so make sure you read the entire label before taking the drug.

the safety and risks of ibuprofen and alcohol together
Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Increased Risks for Adults 

Older adults who drink alcohol while taking medication are at increased risk for developing complications, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This is because the body’s ability to break down alcohol decreases with age.

A study on drug-alcohol interactions found that most older adults in the US have an intake of prescription or nonprescription medications, and above 50 percent drink alcohol regularly. Therefore, drinking alcohol while taking this medication puts older adults at a greater danger of falls and other accidents, as well as adverse drug interactions.

Can One Overdose on Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a medication meant to help alleviate pain, but taking too much of it can have dangerous consequences. Overdosing on ibuprofen can lead to stomach or intestinal damage and, in rare cases, can be deadly. To avoid these risks, it’s important to always follow the dosage instructions on the label or from your doctor.

Typical Overdose Symptoms

If you think you may have overdosed on ibuprofen, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose can take hours or even days to appear and can be very serious.

Some of the most common mild symptoms are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tinnitus
  • Vomiting

On the other hand, the more severe symptoms are:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Comatose
  • Convulsion
  • Lack of urine
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Severe headache 

How Long After Taking Ibuprofen Can One Drink?

Ibuprofen provides pain relief for 4-6 hours, but it takes the body 10 hours to break it down completely. Therefore, it is best to avoid alcohol during that time. Otherwise, you may experience gastrointestinal distress or other issues.

How Long After Drinking Can One Take Ibuprofen?

You should wait 24 hours after consuming alcohol before taking ibuprofen, as alcohol can stay in your system for up to 25 hours. However, if you drink alcohol frequently or have a condition that affects how quickly your body processes alcohol, alcohol can remain in your system for an extended period.

Additionally, women and people 65 and older process alcohol more slowly, meaning it will stay in their system for longer. Therefore, it’s advisable to speak with a doctor about your individual situation and how long you should wait after drinking before taking ibuprofen.

Best Practices

Speaking with your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking ibuprofen long-term is important. They will be able to advise you on how often it is safe to drink based on your individual risk factors. If you only take ibuprofen occasionally, moderate drinking should be safe. However, it’s worth noting that even one drink can cause stomach upset.


It is generally not recommended to drink alcohol while taking ibuprofen. This is because the combination can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Additionally, ibuprofen can increase the levels of alcohol in the blood, which can intensify the effects of alcohol. If you do choose to drink while taking ibuprofen, it is crucial to do so in moderation and to be aware of the potential risks.