Painkillers and Alcohol

Interaction between medications like painkillers and alcohol is always a cause for concern, and thus the most common advice is to refrain from drinking during the duration of any medication taken for treating any serious ailment.
However, interaction between painkillers and alcohol can be quite severe as well. This stands particularly true in case of prescription based painkillers, or those that are particularly powerful. However, the same fact holds true for painkillers that are of the over-the-counter variety as well. Moreover, painkillers used for treating chronic pain can cause considerable damage to the body when mixed with alcohol because of the long-term exposure to it.

The best practice to follow in case of trying to determine the effects of mixing painkillers and alcohol is to seek the expert opinion of a general physician to weed out the possibilities of any serious harm that the painkillers and alcohol can cause.

Some of the painkillers generally cause irritation of the stomach lining or the liver, with alcohol consumption at the same time running the risk of seriously aggravating these conditions. Moreover, alcohol can impede the rate of metabolism of these drugs and their removal from the system, which cause elongate the duration of any side effects that they might produce in the body.

Below are some of the known effects of taking painkillers and alcohol for some of the common types of painkillers:

  • Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Ibuprofen is a popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treating chronic pain and swelling. It does not cause any problem when combined with very light consumption of alcohol. However, this drug causes irritation in the stomach which alcohol consumption can exacerbate. The common symptoms of interaction between ibuprofen and alcohol is the presence of persistent stomach upset and black/tarry stool, as well as, vomit with the consistency of coffee grounds or even blood in it. This is a sign of internal bleeding which requires immediate medical attention. Moreover, long-term consumption of ibuprofen can damage the kidneys, which can also exacerbate when taking ibuprofen and alcohol together for longer periods.

  • Paracetamol and Alcohol

Even though complications from paracetamol and alcohol interactions are quite rare, they can cause paracetamol overdose in a number of cases. This is particularly true in case of alcoholics because they often have impaired liver capabilities, which means that their body will take longer to metabolize and remove even a regular dosage of paracetamol. Moreover, this interaction can cause alcohol-acetaminophen, which results in an increase in liver activity due to a spike in the secretion of the transaminase enzyme. This hyperactivity of the liver can lead to a rise in toxin level inside the liver, and cause acute liver failure. So, taking together paracetamol and alcohol are not advisable for such cases.

  • Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol is an opoid medication used for relieving pain. However, many people are fond of mixing it with alcohol to bolster the feeling of euphoria and hallucination that it is known to cause. However, mixing of tramadol and alcohol is exceedingly dangerous because of the effects they cause such as impaired coordination, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, slowed heart rate, and vomiting. Moreover, the combination can cause shallow breathing which combined with slowed heart rate and likely overdose can lead to death. Thus, people taking tramadol as their pain medication ought to desist strictly from taking tramadol and alcohol together because even regular dose of this drug can cause overdose in the presence of alcohol.

  • Prednisone and Alcohol

Prednisone is a steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which can cause a number of health problems when combined with alcohol. It can suppress the immune system which alcohol can easily exacerbate. Moreover, prednisone and alcohol together can cause thinning of bones, ultimately leading to their increased brittleness and osteoporosis. In addition, prednisone can cause a temporary diabetic state, which can become even more dangerous in the presence of alcohol that generally raises the blood sugar level. Finally, combining prednisone and alcohol can cause irritation of the digestive tract and result in peptic ulcers. It is best to avoid completely drinking alcohol while taking this steroidal medication.

Overall, the combination of painkillers and alcohol is not ideal due to various sides effects they can cause when they are combined, so its always advisable to consult your doctor before taking painkillers and alcohol together.


Updated on: November 2016
 
Advice on How to Quit Alcohol
 

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