Do you take any medications that interact with alcohol? If you automatically answered “no” you might be surprised by the results of a new study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The study revealed that almost 42 percent of people in the United States who drink have also used at least one prescription medication that interacts with alcohol.
Alcohol-interactive drugs include many used to treat allergies, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, seizures, sleep problems, and numerous other conditions.
You can find an extensive list of medications that potentially interact with alcohol on the National Institutes of Health website.
The potential results of mixing medications with alcohol can vary widely from nausea, headaches and loss of coordination to internal bleeding, heart problems, difficulty breathing and even death.
Aaron White, a neuroscientist in the division of epidemiology and prevention research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offered several examples:
• Blood pressure – Because alcohol can increase blood pressure, it can counteract the work of a medication intended to lower blood pressure.
• Dehydration – Alcohol also acts as a diuretic. So combining alcohol with a diuretic medication can result in dehydration.
• Neurological issues – Mixing alcohol with a sedative such as sleeping pills or narcotic pain medications may affect how the brain controls reflexes like breathing and heart rate.
Rosalind A. Breslow, an epidemiologist in the division of epidemiology and prevention at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explained that the risks of a dangerous interaction become greater as we age.
Older people are more likely to have serious health problems and therefore tend to take more medications. This increases the odds that a senior may take at least one medication that will interact with alcohol.