WE’VE all popped a couple of paracetamols the day after a heavy drinking session to try and ease a hangover.
But according to a doctor who has become a TikTok sensation, this is the worst thing you can do after drinking alcohol.
Dr Karan Rangarjan said you should “never” mix alcohol and paracetemolCredit: TikTok dr.karanr
Followers of Dr Karan Rangarjan, an NHS surgical doctor and lecturer at Sunderland University, were baffled to discover their hangover trick could be causing harm.
Paracetamol is a common painkiller used to treat an array of symptoms, including headaches, migraines, fever, body aches and pains.
However, Dr Karan explained why “you should never mix paracetamol and alcohol” to his four million followers, suggesting it could overload the liver.
He said that both paracetamol and alcohol produce “toxic products” when broken down in the body.
When taken together, the body may not be able to produce enough of a certain chemical called glutathione to neutralise the toxic compounds quickly enough.
“When you take paracetamol, it’s broken down by the body to various chemicals,” the doctor says.
“One of these chemicals is a toxic compound that can damage liver cells.
“To prevent this damage the liver produces glutathione to neutralise this toxic compound.
“Glutathione also neutralises acetaldehyde, the toxic breakdown products of alcohol.
“If you mix paracetamol and alcohol, it’s just not enough glutathione to go round neutralising the toxic breakdown products alcohol and paracetamol.”
The effect of this is that it weakens the level of resistance a person has to either substance, leaving them more vulnerable to the negative effects of overdosing on either alcohol or paracetamol, MedNews reports.
Paracetamol is mainly broken down by the liver, which is why an overdose can lead to acute liver damage (hepatotoxicity).
Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, told the Sun: “The liver can be harmed by an overdose of paracetamol, and also by drinking too much alcohol.
“So, in theory, drinking to excess could make you more susceptible to liver damage if you take paracetamol afterwards; but this is more likely to be a problem if you are a chronic alcoholic, are malnourished, use higher doses of paracetamol very regularly, or if you have existing liver problems.
“The current guidance is that for most people who drink in moderation and who don’t take high doses of painkillers regularly, paracetamol is a safe choice to help to relieve hangover headaches and muscle cramps. Your pharmacist or doctor can advise further.”
What should I take to relieve a hangover?
Dr Karan recommends taking ibuprofen instead of paracetamol to treat hangover headaches.
Ibuprofen is another over-the-counter painkiller that works with a slightly different mechanism to paracetamol, and is removed from the body by the kidneys – but it can also rarely cause liver damage.
For a patient deciding which medicine to use, the main difference between the two is that ibuprofen can reduce inflammation.
The NHS says “painkillers can help with headaches and muscle cramps” during a hangover.
While drinking, it says “a small amount of alcohol while taking paracetamol or ibuprofen is usually safe”.
But if you have liver problems, avoid paracetamol, and if you have liver or kidney problems, do not take ibuprofen.
If you mix paracetamol and alcohol, it’s just not enough glutathione to go round neutralising the toxic breakdown products alcohol and paracetamol
Dr Karan Rangarjan
You should never mix alcohol and prescription painkillers, like codeine.
Taking a diarrhoea treatment sachet before you hit the sheets is another GP-approved way to rehydrate after a heavy night.
And 40% of Brits say a fry up helped them recover from a hangover in three hours, while painkillers did the same for just 19 per cent of people.
Hangover cure no more
The video from Dr Karan has gained over 974,300 views and 92,900 likes so far, with many TikTok users saying they weren’t aware of the issues – and many having taken both many times.
“Not me taking like 3 paracetamols with friends before drinking,” one user said. [sic]
“Oof I always take some pcmol before I go to sleep when drunk,” another user added. [sic]
“Oh god why hasn’t anyone said this before, surprised my liver still works,” one user commented. [sic]
Other viewers were left horrified by the revelation, with someone writing: “Am I gonna die, confused?” [sic]
Dr Karan regularly shares ‘reaction’ videos to his page, where he explores health myths.
In a recent video, he “exposed” the myth that pink eye can be transmitted by passing wind.