Prednisone is a synthetic steroid hormone, that is, it is formulated in the laboratory to mimic and enhance the action of natural hormones in the body called Glucocorticoids.
Prednisone helps to reduce inflammation and can in the process, lower immunity.
Other medications that belong to the same class as prednisone are Beclomethasone, Dexamethasone, and Hydrocortisone.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Prednisone?
It depends on your medical history, how long you’ve been taking it for and the dose of prednisone you’re taking. One or two glasses of alcohol per day while taking prednisone may not harm you but it is always a wise choice to inform your doctor or pharmacist of all substances you are taking, including alcohol or tobacco so they can advise you on possible interactions.
Possible Effects Of Taking Prednisone and Alcohol
1. Suppression Of The Immune System
Prolonged therapy with high doses of prednisone can suppress the immune system. This means it affects the ability of body soldiers to fight infections.
Incidentally, alcohol does the same thing to your immune system, thus, taking both prednisone and alcohol could put your body at risk of infections that your body could have fought.
2. Increased Likelihood of Causing Type 2 Diabetes
Glucocorticoids promote the production of glucose in the liver and also prevent the breakdown of glucose by making cells less sensitive to insulin- the hormone that breaks down glucose for energy. This results in an accumulation of glucose in the blood and a rise in blood sugar levels.
Alcohol also increases blood sugar levels, hence, drinking alcohol while using prednisone can result in an exacerbated increase in blood sugar levels.
3. Aggravation of Peptic Ulcers
Alcohol consumption has been linked with peptic ulcer in a dose-dependent manner. This means that the more alcohol you consume, the more prone you are to peptic ulcers.
Prednisone therapy is also associated with a great risk of peptic ulceration. Drinking alcohol while taking prednisone can greatly increase the risk of peptic ulcers.
4. Psychiatric Disorders
Steroid therapy has been shown to be associated with symptoms of depression, and other psychotic effects. Meanwhile, alcohol is also associated with depression.
This study suggests that increasing involvement with alcohol increases the risk of depression. Using both concomitantly would theoretically increase the risk of developing a major depressive disorder.
5. Increased Risk of Osteoporosis
The ability of steroids to decrease inflammation is a well-proven fact, however, they are also implicated in decreasing the formation of new bone mass while increasing the breakdown of old bone. They do this by decreasing the absorption of calcium and Vitamin D from food or supplements.
Calcium and vitamin D are important in the formation of bones, hence, decreased absorption can lead to weak bones and a condition known as osteoporosis.
Similarly, alcohol is a natural enemy of calcium. It affects the liver, in a way that decreases the uptake and the availability of calcium in the body thereby leading to osteoporosis.
Side Effects Of Prednisone
Here are some important side effects of Prednisone to note:
- Prednisone can have damaging effects on the digestive tract, leading to a peptic ulcer. It is therefore advisable to take prednisone after a full meal to minimize this effect.
- You can gain weight while taking prednisone. This is because it could prevent you from feeling full, making you eat more than you normally would. To avoid unwanted weight gain, make sure you eat just about the quantity you eat normally.
- Prednisone can affect your ability to sleep. It is advisable to avoid caffeine while on prednisone because caffeine also affects your ability to sleep, hence a combination can worsen sleep problems.
In a nutshell, when you take alcohol and prednisone together, you inadvertently suppress your ability to fight infections, increase your chances of developing a peptic ulcer, type 2 diabetes and depression, and put yourself at risk of weakened bones. A wise choice would be to pause alcohol intake until you complete your prednisone dosage.
If you are a chronic alcohol user and your prednisone prescription will last for a long time, the above facts might just be enough reasons to reconsider your alcohol use for your health. It is just safer not to take any health risks.