Beware of mixing alcohol with meds

  • Deborah Condon

People are being reminded of the potential dangers of mixing alcohol and medicines over the Christmas and New Year period.

According to the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), alcohol can interact negatively with ‘hundreds of commonly used medicines' and this includes over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies.

It noted that alcohol can make some medicines less effective, or it can intensify medication side-effects, such as drowsiness, sleepiness and light headedness. This can affect a person's concentration levels, including their ability to drive or operate machinery.

The IPU warned that alcohol should never be used with antihistamines or medications with sedative effects.

"Although most medicines are safe and effective when used as directed, mixing alcohol and medicines puts you at risk of a dangerous reaction. Our advice is if you are taking any medication, ask your pharmacist for advice before consuming alcohol to make sure it is safe to mix the two," commented pharmacist and IPU vice-president, Daragh Connolly.

He also pointed out that medicines that contain alcohol can affect a person's blood alcohol concentration levels.

"By drinking alcohol on top of taking medication, you could unconsciously put yourself over the legal limit for driving. Our advice is to always read the label and, when in doubt, ask your pharmacist," he added.


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