Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are readily available and generally safe for home use. When combined with alcohol, however, some OTC drugs can be dangerous or even fatal. Read on to learn about the dangers of combining alcohol and OTC drugs.
What is OTC?
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medications that can be purchased without a prescription. Many OTC drugs are intended to treat mild illnesses, like colds, coughs, allergies, and aches and pains. OTC drugs are generally safe for home use.
When people purchase OTC drugs, they assume these medications are safe. However, when combined with alcohol, some OTC drugs can be dangerous or even fatal.
Combining OTC drugs with alcohol
The most common OTC drugs that are used in combination with alcohol are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
These ingredients can be found in other OTC drugs as well, like cough syrups, sleep aids, and cold and flu medications. If you’re drinking alcohol while taking OTC drugs, you can experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
Severe and even fatal reactions are possible at high doses, so it’s important to take these drugs with care.
When alcohol and OTC drugs are combined, they can form toxic substances that can damage your internal organs. Excessive alcohol consumption combined with certain OTC drugs can increase your risk of a fatal overdose.
The dangers of alcohol and OTC drugs
In addition to causing adverse side effects like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and abdominal pain, alcohol can greatly increase your risk of liver damage when combined with certain OTC drugs. Certain OTC drugs can also increase your risk of adverse reactions when combined with alcohol. These include: Acetaminophen : Increases the risk of liver damage.
- Ibuprofen : Increases the risk of stomach bleeding.
- Benadryl : Increases the risk of drowsiness.
- Aspirin : Increases the risk of stomach bleeding.
Which OTC drugs can be dangerous when combined with alcohol?
When combined with alcohol, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is one of the most commonly used OTC drugs, and it can be fatal at high doses. The recommended daily dose of acetaminophen is 4 grams, while the recommended daily dose of alcohol is 1 drink. If you consume 2 or 3 drinks, you should not take acetaminophen. You should not take acetaminophen with alcohol unless your doctor directs you to do so.
Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding when combined with alcohol. The risk is further increased when taking higher doses of either substance.
Safer ways to take care of cold symptoms without alcohol or over-the-counter drugs
If you’re experiencing a home-related illness, like a cold, it can be tempting to reach for an OTC medication. Alcohol is a poor choice, however. Luckily, there are a few safe, non-medical ways to treat your minor ailments. If you have a cold, you should get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and stay hydrated. Stay away from other people as much as possible to avoid spreading your cold. If you have allergies, you may want to keep an anti-histamine on hand to help you sleep. You can also try consuming more vitamin C and eating foods high in antioxidants, like oranges, grapefruit, and strawberries, to bolster your immune system naturally. If you have back pain, chiropractic care is the most effective treatment option.
When combined with alcohol, OTC drugs can cause a wide range of adverse side effects. Severe reactions are possible at high doses, so it’s important to take these drugs with care.
If you’re experiencing a home-related illness, like a cold, it can be tempting to reach for an OTC medication. However, alcohol is a poor choice when treating a cold. Luckily, there are a few safe, non-medical ways to treat your minor ailments.