When you’re ill or on medication it’s important to take extra care of yourself.
That may be with a healing, hearty veg soup, packed with vitamins, or ensuring you drink plenty of fluids.
But stick to water as, sometimes, even drinking alcohol in moderation isn’t enough and you need to just cut it out completely.
It is important to note the NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units a week, spread out over three days or more, and having two alcohol-free days a week.
While this is an overview nothing substitues the recommendations and advice from your own GP or NHS 111.
Drinking a small amount of alcohol alongside over-the-counter painkillers, like paracetamol and ibuprofen, is considered safe.
But only if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines by checking the leaflet for the correct doses and what they say about drinking.
The NHS advices that if you are taking stronger medication, such as prescription strength painkillers like dihydrocodeine, gabapentin and tramadol, you should cut out alcohol all together.
While it is sensible to avoid drinking alcohol when you are taking antibiotics, it is generally considered safe to have a tipple in moderation.
Unless, it is one of the following, as they can react badly; metronidazole (clears ulcers and pressure sores) and tinidazole (helps to clear bacteria).
The NHS also advises that you avoid alcohol if you are taking linezolid and doxycycline.
The NHS recommend that you do not drink alcohol while taking antidepressants as it can increase their side effects and can also make the symptoms worse.
However, there are certain types of antidepressants that you should not drink with at all such as monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as it can result in a sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can make you feel drowsy if you drink.
The NHS also clearly points out how patients should never stop taking their antidepressants just so that they can drink alcohol.
For more advice visit the NHS website.
Mental health problems
The NHS suggest it is best to avoid alcohol if you are suffering from a mental health issue as it can make it worse.
And, as above, if you are taking medication, alcohol can interfere with how it affects the body.
Mentalhealth.org say there is a wider issue with alcohol being used as ‘self-medication’ for people, and it is not necessarily as easy as cutting it out.
Mental health and suicide support
Helplines and support groups
The NHS Choices website lists the following helplines and support networks for people to talk to.
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com.
- Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
- PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
- Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity based in England providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
- Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
- Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
The NHS recommends that you do not drink alcohol six hours before going to bed if you have insomnia.
People suffering from insomnia may lie awake for several hours every night and alcohol can interfere with their normal sleep patterns, making the problems worse.
While there are a number of things that can trigger a migraine, the NHS recommends that people who suffer regularly, limit their intake of alcohol.
You don’t have to cut out alcohol completely if you have diabetes, but you should be aware of the effects it can have.
There are a number of risk factors linked to diabetes and drinking alcohol as it can cause a sudden drop or rise in blood pressure.
Diabetes UK advises that you should not drink on an empty stomach and recommends planning a carb-filled meal like pasta before a night out.
It is also advised you have your diabetes kit ready and you check your levels before you head out.
For more in depth information about how alcohol can affect diabetes visit diabetes.org.uk