Whenever you visit a pharmacy, take a closer look at the warning on your medication: whether it's over-the-counter medicine for a cough or cold or prescribed drugs, the label on the bottle or the packaging inside the box will make it clear that you should NOT mix medicine with alcohol.
There's a very good reason for this. Mixing alcohol with drugs (even herbal medication) can cause nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, headaches and loss of co-ordination. What is more, you could end up reducing the effectiveness of your medication, or you could increase the rate at which the medicine is released into your body, turning a beneficial medication into a potentially harmful one.
And that is not all. A glass or two of your favourite drink taken after you've downed a handful of pills can cause internal bleeding, heart complications, breathing difficulties and , in extreme cases, even death.
Alcohol on it's own is a powerful drug that can cause drowsiness, lack of coordination, blackouts and, yes, death if drunk in vast quantities. So imagine mixing one powerful drug with another - the consequences can be devastating.
Many medicines are already a cocktail of ingredients that have been mixed just so to give patients the maximum benefit. Add alcohol to the mix, and anything can happen. Also, did you know that these medicines already contain high quantities of alcohol?
Women and Alcohol
Regrettably, when it comes to alcohol, women have a higher risk for problems than men. When women drink, the alcohol in their bloodstream typically reaches a higher level than that of men even if you're drinking the same kind and amount.
This is because your bodies are generally lighter than men's, which means less water in your body than men. Alcohol mixes with water, so a given amount of alcohol would be more concentrated in women's bodies than their male counterparts. Result? Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related damage. Unfair to the ladies, but it's the truth!
Aging and Alcohol
Ever wondered why you get tipsy after one glass of wine while when you were younger you could easily down a bottle by yourself and be fully-functional the next day? The reason is that the older you are, the higher the risk for harmful alcohol/medication interaction.
Aging slows down your body's ability to break down alcohol, so alcohol remains in our systems longer. Unfortunately, unless you have taken very good care of yourself, the older you are the more likely you are to be on some form of medication.
Timing is key
Alcohol and medicine can interact harmfully even if they are not taken at the same time. A good example is antibiotics: they stay in your system for two or three days. Best you wait four or five days after completing your course of antibiotics before you say yes to cocktails.
Remember, when you mix alcohol with your medication it puts you at great risk. Also, alcohol has a tendency of making you fat.