Advil and Alcohol Effects on the Liver

Anti-inflammatory drugs
A close up of pills containing ibuprofen. (Image: Scharvik/iStock/Getty Images)

Advil is a brand-name form of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. Like other NSAIDs, such as naproxen and aspirin, ibuprofen is unsafe to take with alcohol as doing so may lead to liver damage and disease. As both Advil and alcohol put added stress on the liver, either of these substances on their own, if used unsafely, may also lead to liver damage.

Liver Damage

Both alcohol use and Advil use may contribute to liver damage. Advil may, rarely, cause abnormal liver functioning and liver damage on its own. Although Advil and other brands of ibuprofen are usually safe when taken as directed and for a short period of time, the risks of liver damage with ibuprofen use increase with long-term use. Elevated liver enzymes, which indicate damaged liver cells, may occur in up to 15 percent of patients who regularly use NSAIDs, including Advil, according to Drugs.com. Alcohol use is also associated with liver damage, and combining alcohol with NSAIDs like Advil may quickly result in significant liver damage as alcohol activates enzymes that cause NSAIDs to be even more liver toxic than usual.

Liver Disease

Over time, using Advil, alcohol, or especially both substances together may lead to diseases of the liver such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, jaundice and liver failure. When used long-term or in higher-than-recommended doses, sustained liver damage from Advil use may result in hepatitis, jaundice and even complete liver failure. Heavy alcohol use may also cause these liver diseases and others without Advil use, but even when used in moderate amounts, such as three drinks nightly, alcohol may contribute to liver damage and disease if you are also taking an NSAID like Advil. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to never use alcohol and NSAIDs such as Advil together.

Effects with Pre-existing Liver Disease

The adverse liver effects of ibuprofen and/or alcohol may be even more devastating if you have a preexisting liver condition such as hepatitis or one of the earlier stages of alcoholic liver disease. People with hepatitis, a type of liver disease that may be caused by infection or heavy alcohol use, must eliminate alcohol altogether to avoid further liver damage that could lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and/or liver failure. If you have hepatitis or any other type of liver disease, it is also important to consult your doctor before you use Advil or ibuprofen as it stresses the liver and may lead to further liver damage and disease progression.

Avoiding Liver-Damaging Effects of Advil and Alcohol

While alcohol and Advil may both be used safely, it is important to take some precautions when using these substances to prevent them from damaging the liver: drink no more than two alcoholic beverages per day; do not take Advil for pain unless it is prescribed by a doctor; if prescribed, do not take Advil long-term or in higher-than-recommended dosages; do not drink alcohol at all if you are taking Advil; do not drink alcohol if you have liver disease; and ask your doctor before using Advil with liver disease.

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