Can you take medication like Advil after drinking alcohol, and are they good for reducing hangover symptoms?

If you're asking these questions, then chances are you've had a few too many at happy hour but aren't sure whether you can mix Advil with alcohol.

Advil is the brand name for the drug Ibuprofen which belongs to a "class" of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

In this article, We're going to take a closer look at whether you can take Advil after drinking alcohol and if helps with reducing hangover symptoms. We'll also focus on some of the interactions and dangers of taking NSAIDs like Advil with alcohol.

So, with the introductions out the way, let's start taking a closer look at whether taking Advil a hangover is a good idea or not.

How does Advil work?

We mentioned earlier Advil belongs to a group of medicines called NSAIDs. 

They block cyclooxygenase which is a prostaglandin. In simple terms, prostaglandins are inflammatory chemical messengers, and blocking them reduces inflammation. That's why these drugs are used as painkillers.

Other commonly known NSAIDs include Aspirin, Naproxen and Diclofenac. They work in very similar ways and much of what's included in this article also applied to these drugs. 

You should never take NSAIDs together. That means you shouldn't mix Advil with Naproxen or Diclofenac or high dose Aspirin (300mg) in any combination. That's because it increases the risk of side effects and overdose. 

It's important to mention that Advil is a brand name for the drug Ibuprofen. So you shouldn't take Advil and Ibuprofen together as you'll be double dosing.

So, with the science out the way, let's take a closer look at whether these medicines are good to take for a hangover. 

Advil and alcohol interactions

Advil and alcohol don't technically "interact" with one another. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any dangers when taking this drug with alcohol. 

Advil has a long list of side effects which we won't go into as it's beyond the scope of this article. But there's one that's particularly relevant when it comes to taking Advil with alcohol. 

Your stomach has a mucus lining that protects it from the harsh and acidic environment created by stomach acid. NSAIDs, like Advil, reduce the stomach's mucus lining. Therefore, exposing your stomach lining to acid. In other words, increasing the risk of developing stomach ulcers.

The worry is that stomach ulcers in combination with drinking alcohol can increase the risk of severe bleeding.  

With all that said, these risks are mainly associated with the regular use of drugs like Advil in combination with excessive alcohol consumption. 

So, if you don't have a history of stomach ulcers and don't suffer from indigestion, taking a couple of Advil after a few drinks is unlikely to cause any problems. (1)

NSAIDs, like Advil, should not be taken with alcohol. This is especially the case if you have a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding disorders.

Should I take Advil for a hangover?

By the time you wake up hungover, the alcohol levels in your bloodstream should be close to zero. Obviously, if you wake up drunk, then that's a different story.

So, can you take Advil when you're hungover?

Well, the manufacturer says no.

Here's some info from the Advil website: "We don’t recommend taking Advil if you have a hangover. NSAIDs, like Advil, can cause severe stomach bleeding, especially if taken at higher doses. Those chances become even higher if you have 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day while taking Advil."(2)

The answer is pretty clear. Note that the emphasis is on taking Advil when drinking over recommended limits. i.e daily and/or more than two drinks a day.(3)

How long should you wait before taking Advil after drinking alcohol?

There are no hard and fast rules about this. But the important thing to appreciate is that your gastrointestinal tract is left in a fragile state after binge drinking. And I mention binge drinking specifically because that's what usually causes a hangover (unless you lack the enzyme to metabolize alcohol - aka alcohol flush reaction) . For most of us, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner is unlikely to leave you feeling rough in the morning. 

That's why hangover nausea is a real problem after you've had a few too many at happy hour. 

So, if you've woken up with a hangover, it's best to wait until you're feeling well enough to have a meal and get some fluids in you before popping any Advils.

Is Advil good for a hangover?

Side-effects aside, is Advil actually good for a hangover?

If your goal is to reduce some of the body aches and headaches associated with a hangover, then yes it definitely helps. 

It's a "painkiller" and would, therefore, ease some of the pain caused by a hangover. 

On the other hand, it could make hangover nausea worse especially if you take it on an empty stomach in the morning.

As for the other 47 symptoms of a hangover, Advil will have zero effect. 

Anything else to consider?

Hangovers are a sign from your body that you've been drinking too much alcohol for your body to handle. Taking painkillers like Advil will certainly help reduce some of the pain, but prevention is always the best approach. 

Aside from drinking less alcohol, making sure you keep well hydrated and eating before going out is key. 

If you're taking any medication or have a history of any bleeding disorders, ulcers or indigestion, it's best to speak to your doctor first before taking Advil. 

Taking Advil after alcohol and for hangovers - Final verdict

That brings us to the end of our look into whether you can take Advil and drink alcohol as well as if you've got a hangover the next day. 

The answer is, ideally not if you can avoid it. Advil reduces the mucus lining of your stomach leaving it vulnerable to stomach acid. Regular use of Advil and alcohol in combination is particularly dangerous. 

However, if you've got no medical history and don't drink regularly, taking a couple of Advil when hungover is unlikely to cause any problems. 

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to hangovers. And if it's too late for this already, check out our article on the best hangover cure drinks that'll help kickstart your day.