The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Acetaminophen

Many turn to the pain reliever acetaminophen to combat aches and pains. Alcohol drinkers, however, must use caution when taking the popular medication.

What is Acetaminophen

The medication acetaminophen, found in both over the counter and prescription pain relief drugs such as Tylenol, can be a double edged sword and its ingestion should be governed by a high degree of caution, especially when consuming alcoholic beverages. There are minimal health risks associated with taking acetaminophen products, such as Tylenol, when they are administered in accordance with dosage recommendations, which is generally three hundred and twenty five milligrams (325 mg.) However, ingesting acetaminophen medications in conjunction with alcoholic beverages may cause or exacerbate symptoms related to gastrointestinal irritation or acetaminophen toxicity which could result in acute liver failure, coma and death.

Scientific and Medical

It has long been known in scientific and medical circles that long term alcohol abuse can lead to many health problems, many of which are directly related to liver function. When alcoholic beverages are consumed in combination with Tylenol or other acetaminophen medications, the enzyme CYP2E1 can be more rapidly converted to dangerous, toxic chemicals that contribute to liver cell damage, which results in reduced liver function. Individuals who consume alcoholic beverages on a regular basis would be well advised to reduce or eliminate their use of Tylenol and acetaminophen-containing medications altogether. Also, individuals who regularly take over the counter acetaminophen medications should keep their doctor informed as to their intake.

People who Drink

Those who consume alcoholic beverages and take acetaminophen-containing products, such as Tylenol, are at greater risk for medical problems related to liver function such as acute liver failure. Those who consume more than two to three alcoholic beverages per day should avoid consuming excessive quantities of acetaminophen, so as to reduce the risk of the above stated medical problems. Of course, completely eliminating or significantly reducing the amount of alcohol that is regularly consumed may be an even better way to prevent liver damage, especially if pain relief medications that contain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are taken with any kind of regularity.

While it may be a common practice for drinkers to ingest over the counter pain relief medications such as Tylenol before, during or after a bout of heavy drinking to avoid or lessen a hangover, this practice can be very dangerous as the metabolism of alcohol can hasten and worsen the liver damaging effects of acetaminophen usage. The liver damage that is associated with long term alcohol abuse in combination with that of excessive, regular use of acetaminophen products can be accelerated and can lead to acute liver failure, coma or death.

Consideration must be given to the fact that alcohol and over the counter pain medications that contain acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, affect everybody differently. Factors such as age, health and other lifestyle factors help dictate the precise role that each of these compounds will play in liver health and function. However, regular, heavy drinkers should be cautioned and made aware of the potential deadly effects of mixing acetaminophen products, such as Tylenol, and alcohol. It is especially critical for those who suffer from chronic medical conditions to exercise caution when consuming alcoholic beverages and taking medications of any kind.

Some people have made the argument that there is no connection between alcohol consumption and ingestion of acetaminophen medications, such as Tylenol, as they pertain to accelerated liver damage and reduced liver function. However, numerous pieces of medical literature and scientific studies support the fact that the combined consumption of alcoholic beverages and acetaminophen products does, in fact, affect liver health and function. The standard recommendation is to consult with a physician prior to beginning on long term use of any medication, even of the over the counter varieties, and to limit the quantity and frequency of alcoholic beverage consumption.


Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

There are many questions women have on the effects of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Learn what the real implications may be by reading this article.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Over fifty percent of women of childbearing age consume alcohol regularly. The amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume during pregnancy is unknown. Due to this, nearly all women that are pregnant tend to cut back on their alcohol intake. Women that drink regularly before pregnancy usually begin drinking again, shortly after the baby is born, while they are breast feeding.

Where is the Evidence?

During pregnancy, health care practitioners know there is no safe amount or safe time to consume alcohol. After the baby is born there is conflicting data related to the risks of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. There are many myths that say the occasional drink for a breastfeeding mother is good for her and the baby. These myths have no merit and are sometimes adopted by healthcare practitioners. Healthcare practitioners have no evidence or research to back up the health benefits of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.

Postpartum Drinking: The Evidence

While there is no evidence showing the consumption of alcohol is beneficial for mother and baby; there is however, strong evidence that consuming alcohol while breastfeeding can harm the baby. Drinking alcohol before breastfeeding does not help the baby sleep better. The baby may fall asleep faster but will have a reduction in active sleep by 25 percent. It has been suggested and is popular opinion that drinking beer may help stimulate the production of breast milk, but actually, alcohol inhibits the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for signaling the body to produce breast milk. So alcohol will reduce the amount of breast milk produced.

Postpartum alcohol consumption has been shown to stunt rat pup growth and development. The effects were worse than that of malnutrition. A study conducted in Australia found that women who consume only two standard drinks per day were nearly twice as likely to discontinue breastfeeding within six months of breastfeeding. Since a standard drink can vary from country to county. Follow the CDC guidelines, a standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 8 ounces of malt liquor, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.


It is unethical to expose infants and mothers to alcohol in studies, so most of the research comes either from real life experiences or animal studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the health benefits and superiority of breast milk far outweighs the occasional ingestion of alcohol. The WHO does advise lactating mothers to reduce or restrict alcohol intake.

If a mother is anticipating having a drink, it is important to pump and store the breast milk before she takes a drink. She needs to wait two hours after she has had a drink and then pump again. Throw out that breast milk and then continue on with the normal schedule.

Alcohol has a large influence in our daily lives and is a part of our society. While it may be hard to abstain from drinking while breasting, try to keep it down to the occasional single celebratory drink.


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The use of alcohol during pregnancy is a public health problem which can have lifelong consequences for the baby.

Several decades ago the medical profession studied the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and identified the condition as fetal alcohol syndrome. The United States Surgeon General has published material which indicates that no woman who is pregnant should drink alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol that she can consume, and none of the trimesters of pregnancy is a safe time for that either.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of medical conditions which may affect the offspring if the mother drinks while she is pregnant. These consequences include behavioral disorders, growth deficiencies, central nervous system impairment, abnormal facial features, and impairment of intellectual development. There may be hyperactive behavior, low birth weight, speech and language delays, and heart, kidney, or bone problems.

Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

These babies may have a small head at birth. They may have coordination problems later in life, memory problems, academic and behavioral problems at school, and shorter-than-average height. Sleep and sucking problems may occur during infancy as well. The cognitive and behavioral disorders continue through the child’s lifetime. Some of these pregnancies also result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it crosses the placenta, and the baby then consumes it as well. The fetus is still in various developmental stages, and alcohol is particularly detrimental during these phases. Since many pregnancies are not planned, it is important that sexually active women who do not use birth control avoid the intake of alcohol.

In other words, she may not know for several weeks that she has become pregnant, and the consumption of alcohol in the early weeks of gestation is very risky for the fetus and the pregnancy in general. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are 100 percent preventable if the mother never drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. Neither the mother nor the father is capable of transmission of these disorders to the child through heredity or genetics.

If the mother discovers that she is pregnant and has consumed alcohol in recent days or weeks, she should stop drinking immediately. She should seek professional help if she cannot stop the habit. With regular prenatal care, it is possible that the baby will not have fetal alcohol syndrome or any other abnormalities.

Childhood Management

There is no cure for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but early intervention treatment services will significantly improve the child’s development. Moreover, a warm and caring household will enhance the growth and development of the child. Various psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, stimulants, antianxiety agents, and major tranquilizers will help the child adjust to his or her situation.

Health care professionals, especially primary care physicians, should inquire about the use of alcohol with all of their patients, and this is particularly true for women of childbearing age.