This Morning: Dr Helen gives advice on mixing painkillers
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Aspirin is a less commonly used painkiller, compared to other pain relief medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Although drinking a moderate amount of alcohol tends to be safe, while taking aspirin, excessive drinking can have dire effects.
Aspirin is an everyday painkiller for aches and pains such as headaches and period pain and can also be used to bring down a high temperature.
The NHS states that drinking more than the recommended daily limits, while taking aspirin, may lead to bleeding from the stomach.
Generally, men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
“Drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking aspirin is usually safe,” the NHS adds.
The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength.
For example, a pint of strong lager contains three units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of low-strength lager has just over two units.
It is recommended that you take aspirin with food, as you will be less likely to experience stomach upset.
Children under the age of 16 should also not use aspirin. There’s a possible link with a very rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome, which can cause serious liver and brain damage.
If you take too much aspirin and experience side effects such as nausea, hearing problems or dizziness, the NHS states that you should speak to a doctor right away.
“If you need to go to A & E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance,” it adds.
Common side effects of aspirin happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
These include mild indigestion and bleeding more easily than normal, because aspirin thins your blood.
If you experience more serious side effects, such as red, blistered and peeling skin or coughing up blood or blood in your pee, poo or vomit, you should immediately seek the advice of a doctor.
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction to aspirin.
Although drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking aspirin is usually safe, this is not the same for all pain medication.
The NHS says you should not drink any alcohol while taking dihydrocodeine, gabapentin and tramadol, which are prescription-only painkillers.
Drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking paracetamol or ibuprofen is usually safe, yet you should not exceed recommended limits.
You should consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about a painkiller’s potential impact on any other health conditions you might have.
For example, paracetamol “should be used with caution” if you have certain health conditions, such as liver problems, the NHS states.
It adds that if you have liver or kidney problems, you should not take ibuprofen unless a GP tells you it is safe to do so.
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