safety medical

Aspirin and Alcohol

Aspirin is one of the most common medications in the world and is primarily used for the treatment of pain. It has been shown to be the most effective in the treatment of mild to moderate pain levels. It is also often administered in tablets along with other drugs. Many cold medications will contain aspirin due to its ability to lower fevers. Aspirin is also often taken along with caffeine due to caffeine's ability to potentiate the analgesic properties of aspirin. Aspirin works by inhibiting the hormones in the body which transmit feelings of physical pain to the central nervous system. Aspirin also thins the blood and reduces its ability to clot. Due to the wide availability and forms in which aspirin is available it is important to be made aware of the consequences of mixing alcohol and aspirin.

Gastrointestinal Side Effects

In a significant number of individuals just aspirin taken by itself will cause gastrointestinal side effects. The most common of these is just general discomfort. In extreme cases bleeding can develop as well as permanent lesions or ulcers. When aspirin is ingested with alcohol the chance of these side effects appearing is greatly increased. Those who have a history of gastrointestinal disorders and medical conditions should avoid combining alcohol and aspirin as this will likely cause them discomfort and an increase in their symptoms. Alcohols potentiating effects upon aspirin's gastrointestinal side effects are most prominent when the alcohol and the aspirin are taken together at the same time. Generally it is safe to have alcohol if the last dose of aspirin was 6-8 hours ago.

Liver Effects

The effects of alcohol on the liver are well documented and studied. Drinking any amount of alcohol causes the liver to work harder in order to process the alcohol. This is why drinking large amounts of alcohol over long periods of time can lead to liver disease and ultimately liver failure. Aspirin is also processed by the liver and in large amounts can be harmful to the liver. Combining both alcohol and aspirin leads to a greater likelihood of liver damage occurring. This is especially true for those that take aspirin daily as well as drink frequently. If large amounts of each are consumed at the same time it also increases the chance of an aspirin overdose and can lead to a coma and in severe cases even death.

Blood Thinning

Both aspirin and alcohol thin blood when they are ingested. All though this is often a desirable effect for aspirin mixing its blood thinning properties with alcohol's blood thinning properties can be dangerous. Combining both aspirin and alcohol can lead to blood losing its ability to clot. This can result in losing a large amount of blood from small cuts and scratches. It can also lead to lightheadedness due to a lower blood pressure. If lightheadedness or the inability to stop cuts or abrasions from bleeding occurs as a result of mixing alcohol and aspirin professional medical attention should be sought immediately.

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