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The risk of combining the two is small in a healthy person taking a recommended dose of Tylenol. But Zakhari says aspirin and ibuprofen are safer alternatives to treat hangover-related ills, and the best advice is to avoid Tylenol for a couple of days after drinking because even some healthy people may be vulnerable. Plus more than 600 over-the-counter medicines contain acetaminophen, so it's pretty easy to accidentally take too much.
Alcohol can irritate the stomach and aspirin and ibuprofen can cause stomach-bleeding, so they should be used with caution, a government publication on hangovers advises.
A study to be published in the February edition of the journal Drug Safety found that cases of liver damage linked with accidental overdoses of acetaminophen more than doubled between 2000 and 2007. The analysis of data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers found a rise in liver damage caused by acetaminophen alone, and in medicine combining it with opiate drugs, which includes the painkiller Vicodin.
The study lacked data on alcohol use, but it's likely some cases involved drinking, said study author Randall Bond, a medical toxicologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Most liver damage seen in the study was minor, he said.
Of course, routine, excessive use of alcohol alone can cause liver damage, so making hangovers a habit is not a good idea.
Time is really the only cure, Zakhari said. Because drinking alcohol can cause fitful sleep, getting extra sleep the next day can help. Zakhari advises calling in sick if it happens to be workday.
"I have seen some people go to work with a hangover and their output is somewhere between zero and 1," he said.
As for Zakhari, he's never even been drunk. He can't tolerate alcohol.
"If I drink more than one drink, I get nauseous and vomit," he said.
So to celebrate this year, he'll probably have a "casual glass of wine with dinner with friends and watch the ball drop."
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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