Is it safe to drink alcohol with Prednisone?
Drinking alcohol with corticosteroids like Prednisone suppresses your body’s immune response and increases your risk of infection. Steroids can also lead to weight gain, as can excessive alcohol use.
Whether it is safe for you to drink alcohol whilst taking a course of steroid medication depends on why you have been prescribed steroids in the first place. There are some conditions where Prednisone is prescribed and where alcohol use should be avoided completely.
In this article, we look at the various conditions that Prednisone is prescribed to treat, its effects on your body and the possible risks of drinking alcohol with it.
What is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation, itching and swelling caused by many underlying conditions and illnesses.
Corticosteroids are steroid-like medications, and Prednisone comes in tablet form, oral solution and delayed-release tablets.
Conditions Prednisone is Prescribed to Treat
Prednisone treats a vast number of conditions that can result in inflammation. Whilst alcohol has no direct interaction with Prednisone, heavy alcohol use contributes to inflammation in the body. This is why it is important to keep your alcohol use to an absolute minimum if you are prescribed Prednisone for an inflammatory or immune response condition.
Prednisone may be prescribed for the treatment of several conditions, including:
- Adrenal problems
- Allergic reactions
- Breathing problems
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis flare-ups
- Severe allergies
- Skin conditions and diseases, including eczema and psoriasis flare-ups
- Ulcerative colitis
Prednisone is also used to balance your immune system response if it is overactive, and alcohol also lowers your body’s immunity. Combining the two puts you at a greater risk of infection and can be counterproductive in treating inflammation.
Foods and drinks to avoid with Prednisone
Weight gain is a common side effect of Prednisone and other steroid medications that many people find distressing. Whilst a short course of steroids shouldn’t prove to be too problematic weight-wise, longer courses can be.
The longer you have to take Prednisone, the greater the increase you can experience in weight. This is why avoiding foods and drinks high in fat, sugar, and salt is a good idea.
Additionally, Prednisone also causes fluid retention, and so does alcohol, which is worsened by a high-sodium diet.
However, even if you do find yourself gaining weight, try not to worry too much. It will be much easier to lose excess weight once your treatment has been completed.
Preventing weight gain whilst taking Prednisone
Avoiding weight gain whilst taking Prednisone can be challenging due to increased appetite and fluid retention. However, there are some things you can do to reduce this risk and its impact on you.
There are several reasons aside from weight gain that indicates drinking alcohol whilst taking Prednisone is not a good idea. However, from a weight gain perspective, alcohol is laden with empty calories. Additionally, alcohol can increase your appetite, and whilst in your system, your body’s ability to burn fat is hindered.
If the condition that Prednisone is treating permits you to drink alcohol, moderate drinking can be okay if you opt for lower-calorie drinks. Excessive drinking will only likely compound weight gain, cause bloating, and increase water retention.
Avoid fast foods
Research on fast food and weight gain followed 3,031 participants for 15 years. People who ate fast food more than two times a week gained 4.5 kg more than those who ate it less often. Additionally, health conditions such as diabetes were also much more prevalent in those that consumed fast foods frequently.
Avoid adding salt to your meals
Most people will benefit from a low-sodium diet, but perhaps this is even more important for those taking Prednisone. A diet high in salt will result in the body retaining around 1.5 litres of excess fluid.
Eat a high protein, low carbohydrate diet
The best way to avoid excess weight gain whilst taking Prednisone is to eat a healthy, balanced diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates. If you need help, your doctor can advise or refer you to a dietician.
Increase physical exercise
Physical exercise offers numerous health benefits, physically and emotionally. If your condition permits, engaging in at least 30 minutes of walking daily will help boost your metabolism and burn fat. Whilst taking steroids, high-impact exercise is particularly recommended to help counteract the effects of bone mass density loss.
How Much Alcohol is Okay With Prednisone?
You may wonder if a glass of wine or the odd beer is okay whilst taking Prednisone. Drinking alcohol with Prednisone can increase your risk of physical and mental side effects, including a weakened immune system, stomach ulcers, depression, bone mass loss, Type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. Whilst one or two alcoholic drinks a week won’t have much impact, drinking above the Chief Medical Officer’s Alcohol Guidelines can have.
The Chief Medical Officer’s alcohol guidelines state no more than 14 units of alcohol should be consumed within a week and that they should be spread evenly through the week to keep risks associated with alcohol to a low level. They further state that those with health conditions should be even more careful of their alcohol consumption. This is because alcohol can worsen your condition and impair your body’s healing ability.
Considering that you are already suffering from an illness that Prednisone has been prescribed to treat and the evidence that supports even moderate alcohol use can increase inflammation, it is best to abstain from alcohol completely.
Do’s and dont’s whilst taking steroids (Prednisone)
If you are taking a course of Predinone for longer than two weeks, you should consult your doctor before stopping them from avoiding steroid withdrawal symptoms.
Taking steroids can increase your chances of developing stomach ulcers, so you should not take NSAIDs such as Asprin and Ibuprofen and avoid alcohol.
Taking steroids for longer than two weeks can also decrease your ability to deal with stress. Try to avoid stressful situations and ensure that you are taking care of yourself.
Prednisone lowers your immunity, so avoid knowingly coming into contact with anyone who has an infectious disease such as covid-19 or a virus such as flu. You can further protect yourself by ensuring you are up to date with any vaccinations.
It can be dangerous to stop steroid medication suddenly, so always carry a steroid treatment card and ensure it has the correct information.
Steroid therapy can cause bone mass loss, increasing your risk of bone fractures. Someone taking Prednisone can lose 10% to 20% of their bone mass within the first six months of therapy. Be sure to discuss preventative strategies and supplements with your doctor if you are taking Prednisone over a longer period.
Alcohol and Steroids
Combining alcohol and steroids is never recommended. If possible, you should abstain from all alcohol whilst taking a steroid like Prednisone to give your body the best chance to heal.
The risks and effects of mixing Prednisone and alcohol include:
- Weight gain and Type 2 diabetes
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Stomach ulcers
- Suffering worsening side effects of steroids
- Lowered immunity
- Bone mass loss
- A worsening of your condition, the steroids are prescribed to treat
- Needing a longer course of steroids, which can lead to steroid dependence
- Suffering from mood swings and depression
- Increased inflammation in the body
- Developing bacterial infections
Developing a dependence on steroids means you will suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop the medication suddenly. Steroid withdrawal in those taking steroids for a long time can be dangerous and severe. Your healthcare provider will need to monitor your withdrawal carefully and ensure that your condition and blood work are stable enough before commencing a tapering-off regime.
Alcohol and inflammation in the body
Alcohol can lead to increased inflammation in the body in several ways. Ethanol is a toxin, so its effects on the body are never positive. Processing toxins puts the body under stress, causing irritation and inflammation in the organs.
Drinking alcohol causes inflammation in the body in four key ways:
- Alcohol upsets your natural gut imbalance – Drinking alcohol can interfere with the microbiome in your stomach, thus upsetting the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. Alcohol also causes excessive growth of bacteria in the digestive tract. These two factors contribute to inflammation in the gut and GI tract. This, in turn, has a negative effect on mood and cognition.
- Alcohol causes the production of certain inflammatory chemicals called endotoxins in the body to increase. Even moderate alcohol drinkers can suffer from increased inflammation in the body’s organs.
- Alcohol causes stress to the intestinal wall – In heavy alcohol users, research shows that alcohol increases the permeability of the intestinal wall. This can allow toxins to penetrate out of the gut and into other tissues. This condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
- Alcohol weakens your immune system– Research has shown that alcohol interferes with the body’s immune response and can lead to further inflammation. Heavy alcohol use can impact the body’s ability to fight infection and lead to antibiotic resistance.
Long-term steroid (Prednisone) treatment and alcohol use
If you take a long-term course of steroid medication, you may be tempted to have an odd drink of alcohol. You may feel like you are missing out on social events. However, all indications show that Prednisone does not directly interact with alcohol. Alcohol should be avoided until you have finished your course of medication.
By abstaining from alcohol, you will lower your risk of conditions that can develop from long-term steroid use and alcohol use.
Suppose you find abstaining from alcohol difficult or suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). In that case, it is best to discuss this honestly with your doctor so that they can advise you accordingly.
Call us here at Detox Plus UK for free advice on reducing your drinking or abstaining completely. We have access to numerous certified UK treatment resources to help you stop drinking alcohol safely and comfortably.
Prednisone and Alcohol Withdrawal
If you are dependent on alcohol and are taking a course of Prednisone, hopefully, you will understand from our article the risks involved.
We understand how scary it can be to give up alcohol if you have used it as a crutch or to self-medicate a mental health condition. There are no downsides to giving up alcohol, providing you are adequately treated. However, quitting alcohol only has benefits.
People become dependent on alcohol for several reasons, including but not limited to
- To help them sleep
- To deal with stress
- Deal with anxiety and depression
- To cope with trauma and PTSD
- To cope with loss and grief
- Suffering from addiction
Whatever your reasons for becoming dependent on alcohol, these reasons need to be addressed professionally to help you stay sober following a medical detox.
Alcohol dependence and addiction can be treated inpatient or outpatient, following a comprehensive assessment for suitability.
You can also find out here if you have a problem with drinking by taking our simple alcohol use assessment.
If you are a high-risk drinker, we can help. Our experts will advise you on the latest alcohol treatments that are available and support you every step of the way. Call us today for a free, no-obligation, confidential assessment of your drinking habits.
- Corticosteroids: https://www.nhsinform.scot/tests-and-treatments/medicines-and-medical-aids/types-of-medicine/corticosteroids
- Pedisnone: https://www.drugs.com/prednisone.html
- Steroid Side Effects: How to Reduce Drug Side Effects of Corticosteroids:https://www.hss.edu/conditions_steroid-side-effects-how-to-reduce-corticosteroid-side-effects.asp
- Why does alcohol make me bloated? https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-bloating
- Alcohol and weight gain: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Alcohol-and-weight-gain#bhc-content
- Why Does Alcohol Make Me Bloated? https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-bloating
- Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15639678/
- Salt and water retention:https://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/salthealth/salt-and-water-retention/
- Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842521/
- Steroid Side Effects: How to Reduce Drug Side Effects of Corticosteroids: https://www.hss.edu/conditions_steroid-side-effects-how-to-reduce-corticosteroid-side-effects.asp
- Criteria for steroid dependence: https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(16)34580-9/fulltext
- Treatment strategies of withdrawal from long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11899857/
- Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805548/
- Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513683/
- Opposing Effects of Alcohol on the Immune System: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911891/
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