Aspirin! This drug is so common in everyday life that anyone experiencing even the slightest pain will take it. And it’s true; aspirin is a pain killer used to treat headaches, inflammation, muscle and joint pain, and toothache. But that’s not all; aspirin is a common drug used by patients having heart disease or those who have suffered from a stroke in the past. While it is relatively safe to take, despite its potential side effects, if used properly and under medical supervision, users need to be careful about what they eat and drink with it.
Aspirin and its reaction to different foods and drinks
Aspirin, or Acetylsalicylic Acid, is, as the name suggests, an acid. This means it should be taken cautiously with acidic foods such as citrus fruits, wine, vinegar, pickles, tomatoes, and fruit juices. Drinks such as alcohol and caffeine, when taken with aspirin, can also potentially irritate the stomach, especially for those people who don’t tolerate this medication, alcohol, or caffeine very well.
FDA’s take on alcohol and aspirin
The FDA is strict about the consumption of alcohol with aspirin. On its website, the institution says that people consuming three or more drinks per day should be careful about taking aspirin because of the increased risk of bleeding.
Relationship between blood alcohol concentrations and aspirin
A study was conducted on five healthy individuals in which each was given alcohol and aspirin to ingest. They were required to take aspirin one hour before consuming alcohol, and their blood alcohol concentrations were checked one hour after having breakfast.
It was found that their alcohol concentrations were much higher than if they hadn’t taken aspirin showing a direct correlation. This was due to the fact that aspirin played a role in decreasing gastric alcohol dehydrogenase activity within humans as well as rats. Gastric alcohol dehydrogenase is one of the major enzymes found in the body that is responsible for the breakdown of alcohol and thus helps eliminate it from the body.
Is it safe to take aspirin with alcohol?
Considering the study mentioned above, we can quickly reach the conclusion that it is not safe. Gastric alcohol dehydrogenase in the stomach is our first line of defense against possible alcohol poisoning. It is here where a considerable amount of alcohol is broken down, and only the remaining is allowed to pass through the digestive system and be absorbed into the blood. When this enzyme’s activity is hindered, we can only imagine that less alcohol will be broken down in the stomach resulting in more being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Drinking too much alcohol in such a situation can lead to more chances of alcohol poisoning or even death. And people considering consuming the two together should be more precautions than others because having elevated alcohol levels in the blood means that you are not fit to drive or involve yourself in complex decision-making matters.
Both alcohol and aspirin can individually cause stomach distress, especially in people more prone to it, so one can only imagine what they can do when they are taken together. The effect, in this case, can double and result in stomach lining irritation, erosion, or even gastrointestinal bleeding.
What to do when you are faced with gastrointestinal discomfort?
Discomfort in your digestive tract is never a good thing, especially if it is serious. Once you feel that something is not right, you need to take concrete action right away. If your discomfort is linked to aspirin and alcohol, then here are a few measures you can take to lower your chances of developing a complication:
1. Speak to a healthcare professional
Gastrointestinal bleeding, inflammation, or irritation can be caused by NSAIDs such as aspirin as well as alcohol. If you incur any of these problems, you need to visit your healthcare provider immediately. If left untreated, it can result in serious complications such as an infection, shock, or even death.
2. Limit alcohol consumption
If you are on aspirin for the long term due to a certain condition, you need to limit or avoid alcohol intake altogether. If you absolutely must drink, then do not consume more than one drink per day. Remember, your health is more important than anything else, and if you are experiencing adverse symptoms, then your body is trying to tell you that enough is enough.
Since you cannot lower your aspirin intake, you have to sacrifice alcohol. If you think this is hard, ask your friends and family to help. The best way to avoid alcohol is to stop being around it. For instance, instead of visiting bars or pubs, invite your friends to a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol. You can also tell your acquaintances not to drink in front of you. This will reduce your temptation.
3. Space out the intake of aspirin and alcohol as much as possible
If you are not ready to give up alcohol or limit its consumption, and you have to absolutely take aspirin because of health reasons, then separate your intake by several hours. For instance, you can take aspirin early in the morning with breakfast and then go out with friends for drinks late in the evening.
If your doctor has counseled you to take aspirin over the long term because of health reasons, then it is best for you to stop consuming alcohol altogether. However, if you take aspirin every now and then for a headache or another type of pain that is temporary and not linked to a serious illness, then consuming alcohol is not a problem.
Individuals with existing health problems are more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal irritations if they take aspirin and alcohol together. Your health should always be your first priority and if you are unsure of any side effects or have questions, always ask a doctor.
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