Ibuprofen and Alcohol: Is the Combination Safe?

Side effects can be intensified when taken together

Medications containing ibuprofen are associated with some potentially serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney damage, and liver problems. The risk may be further increased if you mix ibuprofen and alcohol.

This article discusses the side effects associated with mixing ibuprofen and alcohol. It also covers other drug interactions associated with ibuprofen and alcohol.

Ibuprofen is sold over the counter under the generic name ibuprofen. It is also available in brand-name products, some of which require a prescription. Examples include:

  • Addaprin
  • Advil
  • Cedaprin
  • I-Prin
  • Midol
  • Motrin
  • NeoProfen
  • Profen IB
  • Proprinal
  • Ultraprin
Man holding a beer
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Risks of Mixing Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Individuals who might otherwise tolerate ibuprofen may experience side effects or complications if alcohol is also consumed. When ibuprofen and alcohol are mixed, alcohol may worsen or increase the risk of:

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Ibuprofen can irritate the digestive tract. Especially when overused, ibuprofen is associated with the risk of peptic ulcer disease, which describes when acid from the digestive tract eats away at the stomach and/or part of the small intestine. This can lead to GI bleeding or perforation, which is when a hole forms in the stomach or intestines.

There is evidence that alcohol can increase the risk and/or severity of GI bleeding in ibuprofen users. According to a 2016 review of studies, alcohol potentiates the risk of GI bleeding—most especially upper GI bleeding—in users of ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Symptoms of severe GI bleeding include:

People over 60 who take high doses of ibuprofen or have taken ibuprofen over a long period of time are especially vulnerable. The use of blood thinners or steroids further increases the risk.

Liver Injury

Ibuprofen is associated with the development of fatty liver disease. The drug directly impairs mitochondria (the "powerhouses" of a cell) and makes cells less able to regulate the metabolism of lipids, or fats, in the blood. Alcohol, a major contributor to fatty liver disease, not only adds to this effect but may increase the risk of cirrhosis, or extensive liver scarring, over time.

Ibuprofen can also harm the liver by causing a backflow of bile into the liver or directly damaging liver cells. In severe cases, this can lead to acute liver failure.

Symptoms of drug-induced liver injury can include:

  • Extreme fatigue and weakness
  • Left-sided abdominal pain just under the ribs
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools

Kidney Damage

Research has shown the long-term use of ibuprofen can harm the kidneys by inhibiting the production of hormones called prostaglandins that are needed to ensure normal urine output. This can lead to the onset of acute kidney injury (AKI), also known as acute renal failure.

Signs and symptoms of AKI include:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Peripheral edema (fluid retention in the legs)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Chest pain or pressure

Alcohol can exacerbate AKI by directly damaging the filters of the kidneys, called the glomeruli. As much as 10 percent of alcohol is excreted in its original form, placing extreme stress on the glomeruli and associated structures. Over time, this can cause these structures to scar, harden, and narrow (referred to as nephrosclerosis).

Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol increases the risk of nephrosclerosis and a condition called acute tubular necrosis, where the tiny ducts within the kidneys begin to collapse due to tissue death.

The risk of ibuprofen-induced kidney injury is highest in:

Other Drug Interactions

There are drug interactions associated with ibuprofen and alcohol, some of which overlap and affect both drugs. Taking ibuprofen and alcohol with any of these drugs can have an additive effect:

Ibuprofen can also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision in some people. In these individuals, ibuprofen may amplify the effects of alcohol, leading to increased sleepiness, loss of coordination, and slowed reaction times.


Mixing ibuprofen and alcohol can lead to serious side effects, including GI bleeding, kidney damage, and liver problems. There are also drug interactions associated with ibuprofen and alcohol that can cause an additive effect.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you can drink alcohol while taking ibuprofen depends on various factors like your age, general health, and your medical history.

If alcohol is consumed in moderation—no more than one drink per day for assigned females and two drinks per day for assigned males—you will likely be OK if you take an occasional ibuprofen. The same may not apply if you take ibuprofen regularly or in high doses.

If in doubt, it's best to avoid mixing ibuprofen and alcohol together. Better yet, speak with your healthcare provider about the amount of ibuprofen and alcohol you consume. Your healthcare provider can help you assess your actual risk so that you are not placed in harm's way.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long after drinking alcohol can you take ibuprofen?

    This depends on how fast your body processes alcohol, and this varies. In general, alcohol can stay in your system for 24 hours, so it's best to wait at least that long after your last drink before taking ibuprofen.

  • How long is ibuprofen in your system?

    It can take about a day for ibuprofen to clear your system.

  • What is considered a small amount of alcohol?

    A standard drink in the United States is about .6 ounces of alcohol, which can translate to one shot, 12 ounces of beer, or five ounces of wine. Moderate drinking in assigned males is two drinks or less a day, and for assigned females is one drink or less per day.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.