Bad news: Advil overdose

Last year’s Advil overdose continues to plague me.

Here’s the back-story: I cranked out 1200 sketch editions in six days. It was grueling, and by day two I’d started taking Advil in prescription-strength doses. By day three I was overdoing it. By day four I had stomach cramps, so I started taking anti-diarrheal (loperamide) along with the ibuprofen. By day six I was wondering why food had lost its appeal. Doctor Google then informed me that while I was nowhere near the LD-50 dosage for ibuprofen (LD-50 means “lethal to half the people who take this much”) I was still taking far too much, and it was tearing up my GI tract.

All that work netted me $12,000 in sketch edition bonuses. If you’re ever asked to damage a body part for money, try to get more than I did. Also, try to make sure that you can cheat, and damage someone else’s body part instead of your own.

And now for current events:

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked really, really hard. I scripted, penciled, and inked a week of comics each day. On Wednesday at 3:00 pm I took two Advil pre-emptively. They reduce inflammation, see? Then at 8:00pm when my hand really started to hurt and my shoulder started to ache (whine, bicker, moan, mutter, grumble, murmur) I took another two. Between those two doses I had the equivalent of one prescription-strength dose.

Within 20 minutes I had stomach cramps. They stayed with me all night.

I’ve been taking it REALLY easy on Advil for the last YEAR. I don’t take it for headaches — I take Tylenol, which works differently. I only use it for inflammation (muscle pain) and then I only take half-doses. I didn’t have any problems with it until just now.

Apparently whatever minor damage I did last year has resulted in permanent weakness. Advil is now off the menu for at least two weeks, and if I find I really need the anti-inflammatory goodness of ibuprofen, I’ll have to limit myself to no more than two tablets per day taken one at a time no less than six hours apart.

In related news, Sandra has told me I’m only allowed to do 1,000 sketch editions. She has also suggested that I spend two weeks getting them done.We’ll see… I’m pretty greedy, and very short-sighted.

65 thoughts on “Bad news: Advil overdose”

  1. Next time try a combination of cold and heat? (I’m with you in the Advil OD problem. I went nuts during college when my back went out. Can’t take the stuff anymore because of it.)

    1. I was alternately iced, hotpacked, massaged, icy-hotted, Ben-Gayed, and chiropractically adjusted through the whole thing. We took lots of steps to minimize the damage, and after all that there was still pain and inflammation.

      1. Well, you could try my mother’s remedy.

        “Suck it up kiddo, it’ll only get worse.”

        My mother’s not really one that overflows with maternal warmth and compassion. 🙂

      2. Well, you could try my mother’s remedy.

        “Suck it up kiddo, it’ll only get worse.”

        My mother’s not really one that overflows with maternal warmth and compassion. 🙂

    2. I was alternately iced, hotpacked, massaged, icy-hotted, Ben-Gayed, and chiropractically adjusted through the whole thing. We took lots of steps to minimize the damage, and after all that there was still pain and inflammation.

  2. Next time try a combination of cold and heat? (I’m with you in the Advil OD problem. I went nuts during college when my back went out. Can’t take the stuff anymore because of it.)

      1. You took our money, alright, but that’s probably what the Jackass producers say too. We’d like – well, I’d like – to be on a higher moral plane than that.

        I think the answer is to take it more gently. And try the bag of frozen peas trick, like that Mr Pratchett fellow does.

      2. You took our money, alright, but that’s probably what the Jackass producers say too. We’d like – well, I’d like – to be on a higher moral plane than that.

        I think the answer is to take it more gently. And try the bag of frozen peas trick, like that Mr Pratchett fellow does.

  3. I’ve just got to say that I’ve never before seen “gastrointestinally inflamed” as a mood. I’m not sure I’d ever want to be around when that mood swings, however.

  4. I’ve just got to say that I’ve never before seen “gastrointestinally inflamed” as a mood. I’m not sure I’d ever want to be around when that mood swings, however.

    1. Advil is ibuprofen.

      I was going to recommend trying Alleve (naproxen sodium) as an alternate, but if it’s even worse than other NSAIDS, then it’s probably not a good idea.

      1. That was it. I got the brand names confused.

        And it’s not that much more toxic. It just damages the liver instead of the GI tract. Which makes overdosing that much more dangerous.

        1. I take 4 OTC 220mg naproxin every day for the injuries I recived in a car accident. The doctor gave me a perscription for the 2 500mg, but the OTC is cheaper. If I take advil or Ibprofin at all I’ll just yack it back up. So long as i take the naproxin with food and take my perscription Omeprazol I’m okay.

          I take 12 different perscription substances a day. Most of them hard on the GI tract. My liver is most likely paste and if I don’t take the omeprazal I barf blood, though when they send a scope down after they don’t find holes, just inflamed red patches.

          Ona

        2. I take 4 OTC 220mg naproxin every day for the injuries I recived in a car accident. The doctor gave me a perscription for the 2 500mg, but the OTC is cheaper. If I take advil or Ibprofin at all I’ll just yack it back up. So long as i take the naproxin with food and take my perscription Omeprazol I’m okay.

          I take 12 different perscription substances a day. Most of them hard on the GI tract. My liver is most likely paste and if I don’t take the omeprazal I barf blood, though when they send a scope down after they don’t find holes, just inflamed red patches.

          Ona

      2. That was it. I got the brand names confused.

        And it’s not that much more toxic. It just damages the liver instead of the GI tract. Which makes overdosing that much more dangerous.

    2. Advil is ibuprofen.

      I was going to recommend trying Alleve (naproxen sodium) as an alternate, but if it’s even worse than other NSAIDS, then it’s probably not a good idea.

    3. Interesting, since my doctor blanched when I told her I was taking 2 400mg ibuprofen 3-4 times a day for sciatica, and instead put me on 2 500mg apo-naproxen instead (3 if I REALLY needed it), because the ibuprofen was going to toast my liver in that amount.

    4. Interesting, since my doctor blanched when I told her I was taking 2 400mg ibuprofen 3-4 times a day for sciatica, and instead put me on 2 500mg apo-naproxen instead (3 if I REALLY needed it), because the ibuprofen was going to toast my liver in that amount.

  5. Dude. Listen to your wife. Seriously. You’re not going to be able to do ANY work if you’re in the hospital… or if you end up accidentally killing yourself with an inadvertent OD to pain meds.

    That, and you should always take plenty of fluids with ibuprofen and related medicines. That helps reduce the tendency of these meds to rip up your gut.

    Take care of yourself. I like your comic a lot; it’s one of the few truly good consistent works out there.

    Rob H., Tangents

    1. Oh I was packing fluids hard. I was doing everything I could to mitigate the pain before taking the meds… and then I fell back on the meds because I was in a hurry.

      This next time around I’ll handle it differently.

    2. Oh I was packing fluids hard. I was doing everything I could to mitigate the pain before taking the meds… and then I fell back on the meds because I was in a hurry.

      This next time around I’ll handle it differently.

  6. Dude. Listen to your wife. Seriously. You’re not going to be able to do ANY work if you’re in the hospital… or if you end up accidentally killing yourself with an inadvertent OD to pain meds.

    That, and you should always take plenty of fluids with ibuprofen and related medicines. That helps reduce the tendency of these meds to rip up your gut.

    Take care of yourself. I like your comic a lot; it’s one of the few truly good consistent works out there.

    Rob H., Tangents

  7. dude, that sucks. i usually take aspirin, but that tends to cause the same sorts of digestive-tract issues as ibuprofen. also, my mom discovered when she fractured her tailbone that a little-known rare side effect of ibuprofen is anxiety. weird, huh? so if you start freaking out about minor things, blame the advil.

  8. dude, that sucks. i usually take aspirin, but that tends to cause the same sorts of digestive-tract issues as ibuprofen. also, my mom discovered when she fractured her tailbone that a little-known rare side effect of ibuprofen is anxiety. weird, huh? so if you start freaking out about minor things, blame the advil.

  9. You know the real answer to the problem?

    Charge more for the sketch editions. $12 a pop instead of $10 (or even $15). Your fans love you and will buy them at the higher prices if only to protect you from yourself.

    Also: DO NOT OVERDOSE ON MEDICATIONS!!!! It’s bad for you, which makes it bad for us.

    Hope you like the rosemary and sea salt chocolates.

    –G

  10. You know the real answer to the problem?

    Charge more for the sketch editions. $12 a pop instead of $10 (or even $15). Your fans love you and will buy them at the higher prices if only to protect you from yourself.

    Also: DO NOT OVERDOSE ON MEDICATIONS!!!! It’s bad for you, which makes it bad for us.

    Hope you like the rosemary and sea salt chocolates.

    –G

  11. Consider trying sodium naproxen (aka Aleve and Naprosyn (sp?)). Just remember what overdoing it on ibuprofen did to you and keep that in mind with your other NSAIDS. Also, I agree with the outstanding Sandra: Listen to your body. When you are in pain and it starts to interfere with what you are doing, it’s time to stop. Not a fun lesson, nor one workaholics like yourself are inclined to want to do, but your body uses pain (and fear) for a reason. Take care of yourself. We want more Schlock!

  12. Consider trying sodium naproxen (aka Aleve and Naprosyn (sp?)). Just remember what overdoing it on ibuprofen did to you and keep that in mind with your other NSAIDS. Also, I agree with the outstanding Sandra: Listen to your body. When you are in pain and it starts to interfere with what you are doing, it’s time to stop. Not a fun lesson, nor one workaholics like yourself are inclined to want to do, but your body uses pain (and fear) for a reason. Take care of yourself. We want more Schlock!

  13. Um, maybe charge a bit of a premium for “I MUST HAVE IT NOW” sketch editions? Or alternatively do more than a thousand, but anyone who gets their order in after you’ve past a thousand must wait longer for it and is aware of that? That way you could still get moolah from sketch editions without injury.

    1. Maybe some form of a reverse auction. First 10 are reserved for special purposes, #11-25 are $50-$100 each, #25-100 are $25, #101-300 are $15 and then #301-1000 are $10 each. After those all sell you can reopen in blocks of 100 at eather at +1 ea per block of 100. So 1001-1100 is $11 ea, 1101-1200 is $12 ea etc. If you consider doing this you should talk it over, because it will probably make the accounting painful.

    2. Maybe some form of a reverse auction. First 10 are reserved for special purposes, #11-25 are $50-$100 each, #25-100 are $25, #101-300 are $15 and then #301-1000 are $10 each. After those all sell you can reopen in blocks of 100 at eather at +1 ea per block of 100. So 1001-1100 is $11 ea, 1101-1200 is $12 ea etc. If you consider doing this you should talk it over, because it will probably make the accounting painful.

    3. I volunteer to wait an extra week or three for my copies. I know you hate having this stuff hanging over your head, Howard, but at least consider doing it slower. And charging more.

  14. Um, maybe charge a bit of a premium for “I MUST HAVE IT NOW” sketch editions? Or alternatively do more than a thousand, but anyone who gets their order in after you’ve past a thousand must wait longer for it and is aware of that? That way you could still get moolah from sketch editions without injury.

  15. Alka-seltzer MIGHT help – depending on HOW your stomach is hurting. I say might because it’s made for upset stomachs, but also includes ibuprofen for inflammation… so it hits both at once.

    However, if it’s a lining/ulcer issue… not much is going to help while the aspirin is messing w/ that.

    I’ve read rice water soothes almost any stomach pains. Also coconut water. Anything with potassium helps – bananas, Gatorade, potassium pills.

    If it’s an ULCER and not gastritis or irritation, raw goats milk supposedly helps. But over use of Aspirin often leads to gastritis so the first stuff’ll probably be fine.

  16. Alka-seltzer MIGHT help – depending on HOW your stomach is hurting. I say might because it’s made for upset stomachs, but also includes ibuprofen for inflammation… so it hits both at once.

    However, if it’s a lining/ulcer issue… not much is going to help while the aspirin is messing w/ that.

    I’ve read rice water soothes almost any stomach pains. Also coconut water. Anything with potassium helps – bananas, Gatorade, potassium pills.

    If it’s an ULCER and not gastritis or irritation, raw goats milk supposedly helps. But over use of Aspirin often leads to gastritis so the first stuff’ll probably be fine.

  17. Doan’s (magnesium salicylate), Naproxin Sodium (Aleve), and plain old aspirin can help.

    All three can reduce inflammation, and they don’t tend to react against each other.

    Caffeine increases the benefit of aspirin, and probably Doan’s as well (BC Powder, for example, is aspirin with caffeine).

    Also, it’s _hard_ to OD on aspirin. You’re more likely to have acid problems with it (that can also be compensated for, slightly, by orange juice). I tend to chew aspirin before swallowing, to get rid of that coating. I don’t take enough to worry about burning a hole in my stomach, and I want it to work as quickly as possible. If you can stand holding it in your mouth, it’ll go almost directly into the blood stream. (most people can’t stand the taste that long)

  18. Doan’s (magnesium salicylate), Naproxin Sodium (Aleve), and plain old aspirin can help.

    All three can reduce inflammation, and they don’t tend to react against each other.

    Caffeine increases the benefit of aspirin, and probably Doan’s as well (BC Powder, for example, is aspirin with caffeine).

    Also, it’s _hard_ to OD on aspirin. You’re more likely to have acid problems with it (that can also be compensated for, slightly, by orange juice). I tend to chew aspirin before swallowing, to get rid of that coating. I don’t take enough to worry about burning a hole in my stomach, and I want it to work as quickly as possible. If you can stand holding it in your mouth, it’ll go almost directly into the blood stream. (most people can’t stand the taste that long)

  19. Stop hurting yourself!

    Speaking as someone prone to “gastrointestinally inflamed moods”, glutamine can help. Also not something to overdose on, but taking it for a couple days while you abstain from ibuprofen can help heal the lining of the intestinal tract. If you don’t want supplements, meat contains glutamine. Have a few steaks. 🙂

    For natural anti-inflammatories, nothing is going to work like a medication does (like, willow bark tea doesn’t have the same kick as aspirin, even though the effective ingredient is the same), but quercetin can help, as can fish oil. (Have some tuna with your steak!) Also, to heal and protect your liver from all that ibuprofen, you definitely want milk thistle (silymarin). For a mild muscle relaxant, try passion flower. And maybe have yourself tested for gluten intolerance. That also causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, and the combo of that and advil can really make you feel like death warmed over on toast, trust me.

    I make no guarantees. This is just what I’ve found to work for me.

    Good luck! And no more damaging body parts for $$! Hmpf. You mercenary, you.

  20. Stop hurting yourself!

    Speaking as someone prone to “gastrointestinally inflamed moods”, glutamine can help. Also not something to overdose on, but taking it for a couple days while you abstain from ibuprofen can help heal the lining of the intestinal tract. If you don’t want supplements, meat contains glutamine. Have a few steaks. 🙂

    For natural anti-inflammatories, nothing is going to work like a medication does (like, willow bark tea doesn’t have the same kick as aspirin, even though the effective ingredient is the same), but quercetin can help, as can fish oil. (Have some tuna with your steak!) Also, to heal and protect your liver from all that ibuprofen, you definitely want milk thistle (silymarin). For a mild muscle relaxant, try passion flower. And maybe have yourself tested for gluten intolerance. That also causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, and the combo of that and advil can really make you feel like death warmed over on toast, trust me.

    I make no guarantees. This is just what I’ve found to work for me.

    Good luck! And no more damaging body parts for $$! Hmpf. You mercenary, you.

  21. I have done far more and received far less impact, but I have a cast iron GI tract. However, I am still afraid to get my liver tested lest I find out how many holes I’ve burned in it.
    I take two OTC ibuprofen and two OTC acetaminophen thrice daily when my back is really bad. I was told that they work well together.

    Seriously though, take two or more weeks to do the sketch editions and go ahead and charge an extra $5 for them. If you are going to cripple yourself, at least get PAID for it. You will find your fan pt be patient.

  22. I have done far more and received far less impact, but I have a cast iron GI tract. However, I am still afraid to get my liver tested lest I find out how many holes I’ve burned in it.
    I take two OTC ibuprofen and two OTC acetaminophen thrice daily when my back is really bad. I was told that they work well together.

    Seriously though, take two or more weeks to do the sketch editions and go ahead and charge an extra $5 for them. If you are going to cripple yourself, at least get PAID for it. You will find your fan pt be patient.

  23. I am blessed with Osteo-arthritis.
    I have used:
    Aspirin
    Tylenol
    Ibuprofen
    Naproxin sodium
    and some I don’t remember the names of.

    I am now on Celebrex 100 milligram capsules, 1 or two a day.
    They work better than any of the other OTC or prescription drugs I tried.
    Check with your doctor, they might be the ticket for you.

    Randy in Arizona

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