Think Twice: Take Aspirin to Prevent Hangover
Who wouldn’t give anything to wake up headache-free after an evening of one-too-many cocktails? When we’re feeling tipsy, any suggestion sounds like a good one. But popping pain relievers after a few glasses of vino not only does nothing for a hangover, it can do much more damage than a bottle of wine ever did.
Aspirin has been called the “wonder drug” for many reasons, but preventing a hangover is not one of them. The combination of alcohol and pain relievers—even the over-the-counter stuff like acetaminophen and ibuprofen—can make you seriously sick or even kill you. Not to mention, it has zero effect on hangovers, anyway. If you want to avoid the throbbing head, dry mouth and nausea of a hangover, it’s best to drink less. If you do overindulge, stay away from pain relievers for at least four hours after your last drink.
You probably know from experience that alcohol can aggravate your stomach and the rest of your digestive tract. Aspirin does the same thing. That’s why combining aspirin and alcohol is a bad idea. With both irritating your innards, you’re more likely to damage the lining of your stomach or intestines, which could lead to ulcers and internal bleeding.
The same holds true for all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen.
If you’re thinking you might take a couple of acetaminophen instead--don’t. Combining alcohol and acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage and even death. Most of the reports of serious damage have been in chronic alcohol abusers, but experts say even moderate social drinkers face a risk of serious liver damage.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires that over-the-counter pain relievers carry warnings about the potential for liver and stomach damage and the dangers of using alcohol while using these drugs.
You may not be able to keep a hangover from happening, but you can relieve the pain once it hits. Reach for the pain relievers after you get the hangover. Just be sure you haven’t had a drink in at least four hours. And because your stomach and intestines may still be sensitive from the alcohol, it’s best to eat something before swallowing the pills.
Bottom Line: Don’t turn to over-the-counter pain relievers to try to keep a hangover at bay. It won’t work and mixing these drugs with alcohol can be harmful and potentially fatal.