Thirsty? Think before you Drink

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

I'm not afraid to admit I love to drink and socialise , and when I was first diagnosed, I was told to limit my drinking immediately because of the effects on your body, and also the way your liver has to process the medications, as well as alcohol. I started by quitting drinking completely, it lasted about two weeks, as I was in the middle of college and enjoyed a party most weekends and gave into an occasional binge drink.So instead Im working on limiting my alcohol down as I do love the benefits of a lifestyle with light/moderate drinking, but nobody is perfect hey? As I am writing this blog post and doing more and more research on my condition it is motivating me more than ever to completely transform my diet and lifestyle so I can give my body the best fighting chance for a healthy long life.

The importance of alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis is ensuring you drink in moderation.

Does Alcohol cause or reduce Inflammation?

Do you want the good news first or the bad news?

So small amounts of alcohol can even reduce the level of cytokines that cause inflammation. Arthritis foundation states “Moderate alcohol consumption reduces biomarkers of inflammation, including c-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha receptor 2,” says Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

And yes you guessed it, heavy drinking increases inflammation. If alcohol damages the gut or liver, this will cause inflammation across the body, and not forgetting our liver is already at risk on particular medications. But we all know that drinking alcohol is basically us poisoning our own body right? MODERATION MODERATION MODERATION!

Alcohol should never be used as a potential health benefit, just because it can reduce symptoms of RA, it can cause long and short term health problems.

Medication Interactions

When drinking alcohol, the live breaks down the ethanol, so ofcourse excessive alcohol consumption damages the liver. When taking medications for RA the liver has to also break these down so taking alcohol with particular drugs together can increase a persons risk of liver damage.

These drugs do not interact well with alcohol and can make you more susceptible to liver damage:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen

  • acetaminophen

  • methotrexate

  • leflunomide

NSAIDs increase the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers which can be intensified by alcohol.

If you have Arthritis and want to drink, you should talk to your doctor, and maintain light/moderate drinking. Physicians operationally defined "light" drinking as 1.2 drinks/day, "moderate" drinking as 2.2 drinks/day, and "heavy" drinking as 3.5 drinks/day. Abusive drinking was defined as 5.4 drinks/day.

The NHS recommends:

  • Not exceeding 14 units of alcohol per week

  • Spread your drinking out over three or more days if you regularly drink 14units a week

In the UK binge drinking is:

Men- 8 units in a single sessions

Women-6 units in a single session

There we go, a brief summary of alcohol and our bodies! I still love to party, socialise and make silly memories with friends and family but waking up the next day with immensely stiff and sore joints, oh and a hangover, is not worth it. I need to remember not only the short term effects of drinking a lot but the long term too, I need to sometimes stop and think before I drink! Is it always worth it?

Thanks for reading,

Chloe & Arthur

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