The dangerous relationship between alcohol and medicine

The relationship between alcohol and medications can be dangerous, since the consumption of alcoholic beverages can increase or decrease the effect of the medicine, alter its metabolism, activate the production of toxic substances that damage the organs, in addition to contributing to the exacerbation of side effects of the medication, such as drowsiness, headache, or vomiting, for example. 

In addition, alcohol intake together with medications can cause reactions similar to disulfiram, which is a drug used to treat chronic alcoholism, which acts by inhibiting an enzyme that helps eliminate acetaldehyde, which is an alcohol metabolite, responsible for symptoms of the hangover. Thus, acetaldehyde accumulates, causing symptoms such as vasodilation, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting and headache.

Almost all drugs interact negatively with alcohol in excess, however, antibiotics, antidepressants, insulin and anticoagulant drugs are the ones that, consumed together with alcohol, become more dangerous.

Medicines that interact with alcohol

Some examples of remedies that can have their effect altered or cause side effects when drinking alcohol are:

Examples of RemediesEffects 
Antibióticos como metronidazol, griseofulvina, sulfonamidas, cefoperazona, cefotetan, ceftriaxona, furazolidona, tolbutamidaSimilar reaction to disulfiram
Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugsIncrease the risk of bleeding in the stomach
Glipizida, gliburida, tolbutamidaUnpredictable changes in blood sugar levels
Diazepam, alprazolam, clordiazepóxido, clonazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, fenobarbital, pentobarbital, temazepamCentral nervous system depression
Paracetamol and MorphineIncreases the risk of liver toxicity and causes stomach pain
Antihistamines and anti-psychoticsIncreased sedation, psychomotor impairment
Monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressantsHypertension that can be fatal
Anticoagulants such as warfarinDecreased metabolism and increased anticoagulant effect

However, it is not prohibited to drink alcohol when taking medications, as it depends on the medications and the amount of alcohol ingested. The more alcohol you drink, the worse the effect of the resulting interaction will be.

See why  taking medication without medical advice can damage the liver .

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