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Alcohol and Medication Interactions

Drugs Associated With Alcohol Interactions continued...

Examples of commonly used prescription drugs associated with serious alcohol interactions include heart medications, which can cause rapid heartbeat and sudden changes in blood pressure; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can increase risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding; blood-thinning medications, which can lead to internal bleeding; and sleep medications, which can lead to impaired breathing, motor control, and unusual behavior.

One of the most common causes of severe liver damage -- including some cases requiring a liver transplant -- is a combination of the pain reliever acetaminophen (available over the counter as Tylenol and in some prescription drugs) and alcohol. Other serious alcohol interactions are associated with over-the-counter antihistamines and herbal remedies such as kava kava, St. John's wort, chamomile, valerian, and lavender.

 

Guidelines for Preventing Alcohol Interactions

Although most drugs are safe and effective when used as directed, it's important to read warning labels on all medications. Many popular pain medications -- and cough, cold, and allergy medications -- contain more than one ingredient that can adversely interact with alcohol.

If you're not sure if a medication can be combined with alcohol, avoid any alcohol consumption until your doctor or pharmacist has told you that it's safe to mix the two.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 19, 2013

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