Mixing Bad – Alcohol, Meds, and Aging

Older people are likely to use more medications which means that they are already at risk for more adverse reactions and interactions.  Adding alcohol increases that risk  more. (Try out the quiz below.)

Some prescription medications can react with alcohol. These include medications to help you sleep, alleviate pain, and anti-anxiety drugs. The depressant effect of alcohol can amplify these drugs to dangerous levels.

And – over the counter (non-prescription drug) can be dangerous with alcohol also. Many popular painkillers and cough, cold or allergy remedies can have unhealthy effects when combined with alcohol. In particular, combining alcohol with medications containing acetaminophen can result in liver damage. Drinking alcohol while taking aspirin can increase the chance of bleeding in your stomach. Also, some herbal supplements can have harmful effects when combined with alcohol. Keep in mind these remedies or medications do not necessarily need to be taken at the same time as the alcohol to have serious side effects.

Is also important to remember people become more sensitive to alcohol as we age. Because the amount of water in the body declines with age, older people reach a higher blood alcohol concentration faster than young people. This means older people become affected more so than young adults after a fewer drinks. Alcohol impacts cognitive function and balance, coordination, attention, decision-making, and driving skills per Dr. George F. Koob, Director of the National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This puts the older person at higher risk for injury or death.don't drink and drive

Unless you are taking medications that alcohol adversely interacts with or have medical conditions that preclude the use of alcohol, there is usually little problem with the occasional glass of wine or cold beer.  Of course make sure your pharmacist and doctor know all the medications (including over the counter ones) you are taking. And hey – be careful out there!

Here is a Short Quiz about alcohol and medications from the National Institutes of Health.

Follow inspiration and insight at InspiringLifeOver50.com – for those over 50 who continue to change the world and those who love them.

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