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Prednisone is a synthetic adrenocortical steroid prescribed to help balance hormones in individuals whose adrenal glands do not produce enough corticosteroids. It helps treat inflammation by altering the body’s immune function.
However, with medications, it is essential to be aware of interactions, especially with alcohol. So, can you drink while on prednisone? You can, but depending on what conditions you have, it might not be a good idea.
Continue reading to further investigate the relationship between prednisone and alcohol and see what else you should avoid while on prednisone.
Table of Contents
- Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Prednisone?
- What Are the Potential Risks of Mixing Prednisone and Alcohol?
- What Should Be Avoided with Prednisone?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Prednisone?
The package label for prednisone does not state a direct interaction between prednisone and alcohol. However, clinical studies regarding the safety of mixing prednisone with alcohol are few. Still, those that exist do not show any serious harm in drinking alcohol while taking prednisone, but your doctor can help you determine if it is genuinely safe.
One thing to keep in mind with prednisone, and the reason why it is impossible to say that everyone is safe mixing prednisone and alcohol, is that prednisone affects your metabolism or the way in which the body breaks food down into energy.
Your body converts prednisone into prednisolone, which the liver is responsible for metabolizing before it is excreted through your urine. However, the liver also metabolizes alcohol, so prednisone may change how alcohol affects the body. Conversely, alcohol may affect how the body metabolizes prednisone.
When determining if it is safe for you to drink while on prednisone, there are many factors to consider, including:
- the length of your treatment
- the dosage amount of prednisone
- any medical conditions you have
- how much alcohol you drink
A doctor can help you work through this information and determine if it is safe to drink while on prednisone, or if you should avoid alcohol for the length of your prescription.
What Are the Potential Risks of Mixing Prednisone and Alcohol?
While it is considered generally safe to mix prednisone and alcohol, there are still some side effects and risks to be aware of that some people may experience while others do not.
Weakened Immune System
Prednisone weakens your immune system, which can make you more susceptible to illness. Furthermore, a weak immune system has a more challenging time fighting off a disease should it occur. So, you are more likely to get sick and more likely to have your illness become severe.
Alcohol also weakens the immune system, with chronic alcohol use, in particular, associated with a higher risk of illnesses such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. By combining alcohol with prednisone, the immune system weakens even more, and your risk of getting sick increases.
For those with an already weak immune system, whether because of medications, medical treatments/conditions, or lifestyle habits, the effect on your immune system of alcohol and prednisone can be hazardous.
Long-term use of alcohol causes inflammation of the stomach lining, which can result in heartburn, stomach ulcers, and malnutrition. Since prednisone can increase the risk of gastrointestinal upset, using it alongside alcohol, especially if you have existing stomach issues, can worsen these conditions.
Using prednisone long-term can make the bones more brittle, leading to osteoporosis. Alcohol use is also associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis because it causes the body to lose the nutrients necessary for bone growth. Thus, taking prednisone and alcohol together can further weaken the bones and may increase your risk of severe fractures.
What Should Be Avoided with Prednisone?
While taking prednisone, alcohol does not always have to be avoided, but other things should.
Prednisone can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, which can result in an increase of body fat levels or may lead to diabetes. Because of this, those taking prednisone should avoid “simple” carbohydrates, including cakes, jams, pies, breads, candy, and other highly processed foods.
Caffeine can also lead to unwanted stimulant effects, which can keep you awake at night or increase feelings of anxiousness. If you are suffering from either of these things, try reducing the amount of caffeine you consume while taking prednisone.
There are also many medications which prednisone can interact with, including:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- other immunosuppressants
- diabetes medications
- loop diuretics
- anti-seizure medications (e.g., phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine)
It’s always best to inform your doctor of all medications you are taking so they can decide if prednisone is the best option for you.
When to See a Doctor?
If you think you are experiencing a prednisone interaction, contact your doctor as soon as possible to remain proactive. Also, let your doctor know if you are experiencing new or worsening side effects after beginning prednisone—if your symptoms are severe, seek emergency medical care.
If you are looking for a way to conveniently meet with a doctor and discuss the safety of combining alcohol with prednisone, DrHouse can help. Through our app, you can connect with a healthcare professional in just 15 minutes to discuss your unique situation.
Prednisone is a medication often prescribed for long-term use, which can leave many people wondering if they have to avoid alcohol for the entire length of the prescription, or if it is safe to drink while on prednisone. In general, it’s not recommended to drink while taking prednisone, but in most cases, it is still safe.
It’s not recommended because both alcohol and prednisone weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and making it harder for the body to clear out an infection when one occurs. The side effects of prednisone and alcohol can also compound, leading to weak bones and an upset stomach. However, these effects are often observed with long-term alcohol use, so the occasional drink likely won’t produce these unpleasant results.
If you are curious whether it is safe to drink while on prednisone, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor. They can also go over other interactions with prednisone so that you can do all you can to avoid any unpleasant interactions.
- Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body
- Bishehsari, F., Magno, E., Swanson, G., Desai, V., Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., & Keshavarzian, A. (2017). Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol research : current reviews, 38(2), 163–171. PMCID: PMC5513683.
- Pouresmaeili, F., Kamalidehghan, B., Kamarehei, M., & Goh, Y. M. (2018). A comprehensive overview on osteoporosis and its risk factors. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 14, 2029–2049. https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S138000
- Puckett Y, Gabbar A, Bokhari AA. Prednisone. [Updated 2023 Jul 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534809/
- Frey, B. M., & Frey, F. J. (1990). Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 19(2), 126–146. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.2165/00003088-199019020-00003
- Ton, F. N., Gunawardene, S. C., Lee, H., & Neer, R. M. (2004). Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 20(3), 464–470. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1359/jbmr.041125
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