Can Over-the-Counter Painkillers Cure a Hangover?

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Playing A Doctor Answers: Can Over-the-Counter Painkillers Cure a Hangover?
A Doctor Answers: Can Over-the-Counter Painkillers Cure a Hangover? Aired January 11, 2019

Pharmacist Dr. Stacia Woodcock is here to debunk some of the most common medicine myths, and she's challenging the audience (plus Rach!) to a true-or-false question game about over-the-counter medications.

Is there a difference between OTC painkillers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, when it comes to treating a hangover?

True or False? Over-the-counter painkillers can help a hangover.

The answer? True (with a caveat!)

First of all, Dr. Stacia says it is true that over-the-counter painkillers can help a hangover — but she recommends ibuprofen brands over acetaminophen products!

"Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, so if you're drinking enough to give you a hangover, there's a good chance you've had enough that your liver is working overtime," Dr. Stacia says. She recommends skipping the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen, or Tylenol, because she explains that it is also metabolized in the liver.

So, according to Dr. Stacia, it's not a good idea to take acetaminophen in an attempt to help a hangover because it can put further strain on your liver.

If you're looking to treat a hangover, the best thing to choose is an NSAID — "which is ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, naproxen," Dr. Stacia says.

"Pharmacist tip to everyone: If you take two the night before with a glass of water, you're going to wake up and feel great," she adds.

The takeaway here, as with all of Dr. Stacia's explanations about medicines, is to always talk to your doctor or pharmacist when you're choosing a medication.

"Even if you think you know what you're doing, you may not," she says, "so please talk to us!"

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