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Mixer-Nixers: Top 10 Drinking Dangers

Before your next drink, learn more about what doesn't mix well with alcohol.
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Drinking and Over-the-Counter Drugs

"There are definite interactions with alcohol and OTC medications," says Stephen Ross, MD, a family medicine physician at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

For instance, medications like Nyquil contain alcohol, so consuming it means you're adding more alcohol on top of your drink of choice.

"Also, many sleeping aids such as Tylenol PM or Sominex contain sedating antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl)," Ross tells WebMD. "If someone has alcohol in their system close to the time that they would take one of these sleeping medications they run the risk of becoming more sedated."

Mixing alcohol with other cold or allergy medications, explains Ross, like Contac or Benadryl, can make driving or operating heavy machinery dangerous.

"Nonsedating allergy medications like Claritin or Sudafed are safer to mix with alcohol," says Ross. "A rule of thumb would be to never mix alcohol with an OTC medication that says 'may cause drowsiness.'"

Alcohol and Chronic Illness

"Any person with a chronic medical illness must be careful when drinking alcohol," says Ross.

People with diabetes, for instance, need to be careful because alcoholic beverages are a sugar, and sugar can be dangerous for people with this chronic disease.

Drinking alcohol can also be a risky move for people with stomach and intestinal ulcers, Ross explains. This condition can be aggravated and lead to internal bleeding if more than a small amount is consumed.

However, there's evidence that in moderate amounts, beer and wine offer protection against heart disease. What's "moderate"? For women, it's no more than one drink per day. For men, it's no more than two drinks per day.

Energy Drinks

"Energy drinks or drinks with high caffeine intake do not help a person feel less drunk," says Ross. "The old adage that drinking a cup of coffee will sober you up more quickly is not true."

Instead, pounding down a few highly caffeinated energy drinks along with a few potent mixed drinks can make a person more combative and agitated -- not a pretty picture.

If you've had too much to drink and you want to start the sobering-up process, go to something that's tried and true: water.

"I would recommend drinking plenty of water and not caffeine to try to decrease the effects of alcohol," says Ross.

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