Can You Mix Prednisone and Alcohol?

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Drug combinations can be complicated to understand, and this is especially true when it comes to mixing prednisone and alcohol. Alcohol can have different effects on your body depending on how much you drink. It can also interact with other medications you're taking. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor before you drink alcohol while taking prednisone.

The effects of mixing prednisone and alcohol can vary depending on how much alcohol you drink. If you drink a small amount of alcohol, it might not have any effect on your prednisone. If you drink a lot of alcohol, it can make the prednisone less effective. It can also increase your risk of side effects.

Some of the potential side effects of mixing prednisone and alcohol include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Trouble sleeping

Read on for more information about the effects of mixing prednisone and alcohol.

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a steroidal medication that is used to treat a variety of medical conditions – so many, in fact, that it is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world of pharmaceuticals and has been for over 50 years now. Prednisone can help treat too many medical conditions to list them all, but prominent conditions include asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prednisone’s versatility is due to the fact that it belongs to a class of drugs called glucocorticoids – these are medications that influence the body's immune system by reducing inflammation in response to an injury or disease. This means that they can help you heal from an infection or other health condition.

How Does Prednisone Work?

As a corticosteroid, Prednisone is a hormone that regulates how the body uses protein, carbohydrates and fats. These hormones help maintain homeostasis in the body by regulating the amount of water and sodium in your blood, which can prove useful when treating conditions such lupus, psoriasis, or even allergies.

However, since those widespread applications are due to the fact that Prednisone affects the body in ways that influence many systems, its versatility comes at a price – for example, it is classified as an immunosuppressant because it inhibits cell-mediated immunity by lowering the activity of various key elements of the immune system (such as white blood cells). Prednisone can also cause many disruptive side effects, such as mood swings, weight gain, and high blood pressure.

How Do Alcohol And Prednisone Interact?

Prednisone and alcohol are both taken for different reasons, but their impact on the immune system can be similar. As we just mentioned, prednisone suppresses your immune system and increases your chance of developing infections. Alcohol effectively does the same thing – it also suppresses your immune system, so it makes sense that combining these two drugs can turn very dangerous very, very quickly.

Additionally, both prednisone and alcohol have a diuretic effect – a fancy way of saying that they essentially make you urinate more. This can result in dehydration unless you are mindful to keep compensating for this by drinking enough water or another electrolyte-containing liquid to replace what you lose through urination. As anyone over the age of 21 knows, this is easier said than done when under the influence of alcohol.

If you take Prednisone regularly and still want to be able to drink alcohol responsibly while doing so, it is important that you do not just ignore your doctor’s warnings in an immunocompromised hail mary of drunken stupor – talk to your doctor about how much alcohol might be safe for you given your particular circumstances.

Symptoms of Alcohol And Prednisone Mixing

It’s clear that when taken together, alcohol and prednisone can cause a number of health problems. Alcohol and Prednisone are both processed and metabolized by the liver and are quite likely to affect its function as this subjects it to significant stress. This means that medication or drug levels may build up in your body faster than expected as they fail to be adequately processed, potentially leading to toxicity or other serious side effects. Studies have also shown that alcohol tends to increase the risk of experiencing the more unpleasant side effects of medications like Prednisone.

Since your liver function would be compromised, this also means that your blood alcohol content (BAC) would rise far more quickly than usual, which – nasty hangover aside – can lead to dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting, and hyperventilation. None of these are things you want to be dealing with while your body is struggling to process any drugs found within it and your immune system is significantly compromised.

What To Do If You Have Accidentally Mixed Prednisone and Alcohol

If you somehow accidentally mix prednisone and alcohol, there are still several steps you can take to avoid further issues. The first and most important note is to be mindful of your urination habits and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other drinks rich in electrolytes. This will also help keep the alcohol from irritating your stomach and causing nausea.

You’ll also want to be sure to not take any more prednisone until after the effects of the medication have worn off completely and make sure that there are no further side effects resulting from mixing Prednisone with alcohol before trying again.

If this happens, you’ll also want to try and take note of how much alcohol you had and make sure to limit your alcohol consumption – accidental or not – to lesser amounts in the future. It's best not to drink at all when taking Prednisone, but if you do consume some, it is important that you limit how much you drink, so the stress on your system is minimized to whatever extent possible. 

Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or persist following accidental use of prednisone with alcohol, and if you think you are having a reaction to either substance, it's a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor, so they can assess your health and make sure nothing has gone significantly wrong – this particular combination of drugs could well cause damage you may not immediately notice.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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