Text Size: a  |   a 

Alcohol's Effect on MS

January 19, 2016

Some may not know that alcohol is known to protect against stroke, Parkinson’s disease and cognitive decline. However, when it comes to MS and other neurologic conditions, its effect can do more harm than good.

It is common for MS patients to have a greater sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, which includes balance, dizziness and in-ability to speak or think clearly. This means that patients should know that their limits are considerably lower than others before they even think about having a drink.

Many patients are taking disease-modifying agents that interfere with their immune systems ability to damage nerves. Not all of these medications interfere in any way with alcohol, but they may affect the liver in a detrimental way. Essentially, even though drinking may not interfere with a certain drug someone takes, it would be like adding more wood to an already dangerous fire.

However, there are many instances where alcohol and medication do mix. It is known to increase the effect of muscle relaxers and pain medication, which is obviously very dangerous. Alcohol can also affect how well a drug works, sometimes enhancing its effect, potentially exacerbating side effects, or decreasing its effect, which could lead to requiring higher doses. Additionally, a medication can intensify the effect of alcohol.

Lastly, 30% of the time, alcohol is the trigger for a migraine headache. Some patients have reported a migraine immediately after just a sip while others sometimes go two days before experiencing it. If you have been prone to migraine headaches, drinking alcohol could be that trigger.