Pain relievers such as paracetamol after consuming alcohol should not be taken too frequently; otherwise, the liver could be damaged. (Image: sorrapongs / stock.adobe.com)
Paracetamol after consuming alcohol?
Those who have drunk too many alcoholic drinks at a party often wake up the next day with a growing headache. Many people then quickly resort to pain relievers such as acetaminophen to relieve the discomfort. But can not taking such preparations after consuming alcohol be dangerous?
It happens that in the morning after a party with a lot of drinks, your head is in full swing. It is tempting to quickly find a pain reliever. But doesn’t it harm your health if paracetamol is taken after drinking alcohol? Hepatologist Christina Lindenmeyer has an answer to this in an article from the famous Cleveland Clinic (USA).
As with many drugs, the body metabolizes acetaminophen in the liver. If you take the recommended dose, most of it will be transformed by the organ into a harmless substance which will be eliminated with the urine. Your body converts a very small byproduct of metabolized acetaminophen into a toxic substance which can be harmful to your liver. Fortunately, a secondary substance called glutathione helps minimize toxic effects.
However, if you take too much acetaminophen or if the liver does not contain enough glutathione, the toxic metabolite can build up and cause significant damage to your liver. Alcohol is also metabolized by liver cells. Acetaminophen and alcohol use glutathione in the liver to lessen its toxic effects.
“Over time, the stores of glutathione in the liver are reduced by chronic and excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to problems if paracetamol is subsequently added,” says Dr. Lindenmeyer.
Ingestion can be dangerous
As a general rule, taking a normal dose of acetaminophen (no more than 4000 mg per day) after overnight drinking alcoholic beverages is not expected to cause liver damage. However, regular heavy alcohol consumption (more than one drink per day for women or more than two drinks per day for men) associated with repeated daily doses of paracetamol predisposes the liver to the toxicity associated with paracetamol.
If you drink at a party or other social event and take a little paracetamol for a headache the next day (again, no more than 4000 mg per day), you should generally be fine.
However, if you regularly drink more than the maximum recommended number of alcoholic beverages per day, you should only use paracetamol in rare cases and avoid daily doses above 4000 mg, the doctor recommends.
If you want to be careful, it’s better to use home remedies for headaches, like coffee with lemon juice, instead of medication. (a d)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Cleveland Clinic: Is Acetaminophen Safe to Take When You Drink ?, (Accessed October 17, 2020), Cleveland Clinic
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.